Coppa Italia final to go on after violence, fan protests in Rome

Paolo Bruno

Violence outside the stadium and protests from fans delayed the kickoff of the Coppa Italia, but the match will go on as scheduled, albeit a bit late.

The Coppa Italia final between Napoli and Fiorentina is finally underway after a long delay. Violence before the match caused serious injuries to Napoli fans, enraging the Napoli-supporting section of the crowd, but they were convinced to let the game go on.

Exactly what happened is unclear, but reports have emerged about a couple of incidents that were apparently separate. According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, four people were injured in the incidents, including an undercover police officer. One of them is believed to be in extremely serious condition. That report conflicts with reports from ANSA and Il Mattino, only adding to the confusion surrounding this unfortunate event.

Two Napoli fans, including an undercover police officer, that was going to watch the game were in the car and were surrounded in the Tor di Quinto. The two fell out of the car and were assaulted. At that point gunshots started, apparently from ultras with a Roman accent, in what appears to have been a real ambush.

The police officer (43 years old) was wounded in the right hand, the other was shot in the chest and was admitted to Villa San Pietro in serious condition. A third person aged 32, wounded by gunfire shot in the arm and wrist, is admitted to the Santo Spirito.

Police in Rome believe that the shooting that has been widely reported was not directly related to clashes between fans. They say it was a completely separate incident.

As kickoff neared, Fiorentina president Diego Della Valle and Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis argued with officials about whether or not the match should go on. The Napoli ultras, meanwhile, were incensed about the possibility of the game being played before they received information about the injuries sustained by their fans. Marek Hamsik attempted to talk to the fans, at which point the Capo asked the ultras to calm down. They had the opposite reaction and opted to throw flares and fireworks onto the pitch.

Eventually, Hamsik and the leaders of the ultras were able to calm them down. It's unclear whether they got the information they were requesting or if they simply decided to respect the pleas of their star player. With that, Hamsik and match officials went down the tunnel to inform everyone that the match would go on.

At 9:34 p.m. local time, over a half hour after the scheduled kickoff time, both teams walked out onto the pitch.

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