Police charge Roma fan

Roma fans (Getty)
Roma fans (Getty)

Rome - Police in Rome have charged a man suspected of shooting three Napoli fans on the fringes of the Italian Cup final against Fiorentina with attempted manslaughter, media reported Sunday.

The Cup final, won 3-1 by Napoli at Rome's Olympic Stadium on Saturday following a delay caused by hardline Napoli fans, was marred by violent clashes between Napoli supporters and suspected fans of capital club Roma.

One of three Napoli fans wounded by shots is reported to be in an artificial coma as surgeons decide on how best to extract a bullet which has punctured a lung and lodged near his spinal cord.

A fourth man, believed to be a fan of Roma, was also taken to hospital. He was questioned by police on Saturday night in relation to the incidents prior to kick-off.

Domestic news agency ANSA reported on Sunday that police had arrested a hardline 'ultra' fan from Roma, Daniele De Santis, and charged him with attempted manslaughter.

Already known to police, the 48-year-old has been accused of launching flares at Napoli fans during clashes in the city prior to the match and then shooting in their direction after they reacted violently.

Reports late on Saturday initially said surgeons had extracted a bullet from the back of one of the fans, a 30-year-old named as Ciro Esposito.

But further reports said surgeons had yet to remove the bullet, which was lodged dangerously close to the spinal cord after puncturing a lung, for fear of leaving the fan paralysed.

Esposito, described as "critical but stable", was scheduled to be transferred to the city's Gemelli hospital, which is said to contain a specialist neurosurgical unit.

An updated report by ANSA on Sunday morning claimed the man's life was still in danger, with doctors describing his condition as "desperate" and adding: "the next 24 hours will be decisive".

The latest violence to hit Italian football has caused indignation with several editorials lamenting the lack of real action to tackle the scourge.

Antonio Conte, coach of Serie A leaders Juventus, said: "Every time serious incidents like this cause indignation, we hear the same voices saying what should be done.

"Then nothing is ever done to make sure they are not repeated."

New Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was one of several VIP's watching the surreal events unfold in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday, when the national anthem was whistled and jeered throughout.

The final was delayed for 45 minutes after Napoli 'ultra' fans ordered the team not to play after news of the shootings had filtered through to their Curva Nord (North End).

Hardline supporters often hold great sway within major clubs and discussions between officials and Napoli captain Marek Hamsik were held before the Slovakian forward was ushered to speak to a leading 'ultra' holding court at the front of the stands.

A report in Spanish-language newspaper Mundo Deportivo later alleged the ultra in question -- named in reports as Gennaro De Tommaso, but widely known by the gruesome nickname Genny 'a carogna (Genny the carcass) -- is the son of a Camorra mafia boss, allegedly one Ciro De Tommaso.

His picture has been splashed all over Italian media and the internet.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis was later asked about the fans' influence in causing the delay and he told reporters: "The fans give their hearts and passion to the shirt right to the end.

"So to talk with those groups without the police present seems to me a sign of responsibility both on the part of the organisers and the fans."

However Maurizio Gasparri, a vice-president of the Italian Senate, called for swift action.

"In addition to whoever shot the victims, people like Genny 'a Carogna should be jailed immediately. They have made a mockery of the State," said Gasparri.

"A head of state and other officials who do not walk away while the national anthem is being sung (and jeered) means you have surrendered to the thugs and gives out the wrong signal.

"Exemplary punishments should be handed down by the relevant authorities."

Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete lamented: "Football is a victim of outside forces: the ultras use stadiums to wield power.

"It's a matter of fact: in the stadiums ultras play an unacceptable role."

The latest incidents have damaged a league already suffering from the loss of big name stars to more attractive leagues in England, Spain and Germany.

Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said Italian football had suffered another knock.

"It's not the first time I've seen this. I experienced it when I was playing at Roma," said Montella, referring to incidents during a 2004 Roma v Lazio derby when fans rioted and demanded the match be called off after false rumours spread that a young fan had been killed by police before kick-off.

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