Monday March 04, 2024

Frankfurt admit fans will be in Naples as German minister laments ban

Published : 14 Mar 2023, 21:04

  By Andreas Schirmer and Thomas Eßer, dpa
Eintracht players take part in a training session for the team ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match against SSC Napoli. Photo: Arne Dedert/dpa.

Eintracht Frankfurt have acknowledged that supporters of the Bundesliga side will be in and around Napoli's stadium for Wednesday's Champions last-16 second leg despite a ban.

After much to-ing and fro-ing, Naples authorities stopped the sale of tickets to fans from Frankfurt due to security concerns after trouble at last month's first leg, won 2-0 by the Italian league leaders.

But Dario Minden from the Frankfurt fan department thinks the ban will be counterproductive.

"The safest thing is always to have people in a visitors' block. Whether you think it's good or bad, realistically Naples will not be a Frankfurt-free zone despite all efforts," he told dpa on Tuesday.

"The situation has become more dangerous due to the supposed security measures."

Germany's interior and sports minister Nancy Faeser said she had "little understanding" for the decision to exclude Frankfurt fans.

"In the case of high-risk matches, every possible security measure should be examined very carefully before excluding all fans of a team as the very last option," she told dpa. "Such a drastic measure may not contribute to de-escalation."

Frankfurt's lawyers won an appeal against an original decision by Italian authorities to bar fans from the German club, only for Naples authorities to reimpose a ban specifically blocking ticket sales to citizens of the city of Frankfurt.

Without evidence, German supporters have accused Italian police of trying to ease Napoli's passage to the quarter-finals by removing the famously passionate Frankfurt fans.

They helped carry their team to Europa League glory last season, famously taking 30,000 to Barcelona despite only having an official ticket allocation of 5,000 in the last-eight clash.

Theoretically, Eagles fans who live outside Frankfurt can get tickets for the Napoli game but those who bought them already and reside in Frankfurt will struggle to get their money back on flights and accommodation, according to an expert.

Tourism lawyer Paul Degott told dpa: "It's a difficult and complex situation, but I think the Eintracht fans have been unlucky."

German sports lawyer Thomas Summerer meanwhile says the steps taken by the authorities in Italy are not proportionate.

"Restrictive measures to maintain public safety and order must adhere to a strict framework. In view of the trouble in the first leg, there may be a risk of problems in the second leg. But I do not consider this merely abstract danger sufficient to justify a blanket ticket ban," he said.

"The ticket ban on fans, who live in Frankfurt, is against European law."

But Germany's police union (GdP) said the exclusion of fans from a certain city at football matches is "conceivable" in Germany too.

"It should also be feasible if the police have the necessary information. However, such a measure can and should only be a very special exception," GdP federal chairman Jochen Kopelke told dpa.