Italy coach Prandelli fears European ban after shooting

Cesare Prandelli
Italian national coach Cesare Prandelli. Photo: PA

Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli fears the country's clubs could soon face exclusion from continental competitions after gun violence marred Saturday's Coppa Italia final in Rome.

One man, Daniele De Santis, was arrested on Sunday after three Napoli fans were hospitalised with gunshot wounds following pre-match violence which took place around the capital city's Stadio Olimpico.

Napoli fan Ciro Esposito, 30, remains in a critical condition at Rome's Gemelli hospital.

The start of the cup final, which would eventually see Napoli beat Fiorentina 3-1, was delayed by 45 minutes, while officials and players consulted representatives of Napoli's hardcore fanbase - or 'ultras' - over the incident.

Governing bodies in Italy and Europe have recently started responding to fan violence and incidents of racist abuse in the stands by enforcing full or partial stadium closures, but national team boss Prandelli feels the escalating situation that led to Saturday's street shootings may well force the authorities to consider applying much stricter measures.

He cited the severe sanction once applied to English clubs, who were banned from European competition for five years following the Heysel disaster that killed 39 people during a match between Liverpool and Juventus in May 1985.

Liverpool were banned for an additional sixth year.

Quoted in the Gazzetta dello Sport, Prandelli said: "It is a problem for everybody, but the right road to take is the one of dialogue, not the one of kicking everybody out.

"Stadiums have to be a gathering place for the proactive, not places to be making constant little threats.

"It is clear that our football has the potential to resonate in an extraordinary fashion, but that is not the current image being transmitted to the world.

"It's a problem for the whole country, which ought to be civil in everything it does. Our task is to help the country improve in that way.

"Everyone across the whole country needs to cooperate, otherwise FIFA and UEFA could ban us like they did with the English."

Prandelli also expressed his regret that the Italian national anthem, Il Canto degli Italiani, had been roundly booed and whistled by supporters immediately before the delayed kick-off.

"I felt disappointment and bitterness," he said. "But I am convinced that the boos came from the tension accumulated over hours of waiting for news about the alleged deaths.

"But it's clear that whistling against any anthem is uncivil, it doesn't become us."