England fans say they were charged at by police before win over Italy in Naples

England fans have told the BBC they were charged at by police and struck with batons when trying to enter Napoli’s Diego Armando Maradona Stadium before Thursday’s match against Italy.

BBC footage appeared to show police pushing back against England supporters as they attempted to make their way to the ground for the Euro 2024 qualifier.

One man was pictured on the floor following a charge by the police.

“They hit him with a shield and with a baton,” Vince Hankinson told BBC Sport.

“He fell to the ground holding his head and they just left him there while everybody else trampled over him. The police came [but they] didn’t really assist him at all.

“We arrived at the stadium after a ridiculous hour-and-a-half journey on the bus, which was supposed to be a quick 20-minute drive.”

Another England fan, Joshua Ray, said he was “scared for my safety” and the travelling supporters were not informed what the police wanted them to do.

“We all went and did the checks, no problem. Everybody had their IDs, we came here, I presume it was just a queue, but for some reason they are not letting anybody in,” Ray said.

“We think maybe they’re letting us in, but no communication and then all of a sudden they just charged forward and knocked a load of people over. I saw one guy go down. Nothing has been communicated.”

An England fan earlier had their ticket cancelled by the Football Association after travelling to Naples with an offensive banner about Diego Maradona.

The fixture was played at Napoli’s stadium which was named after the Argentina legend, who died aged 60 in 2020.

An FA spokesperson “strongly condemned” the individual, saying the flag included a “highly offensive message”.

“We immediately took steps to have their ticket cancelled before the match,” a statement added.

Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time, famously scored his ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. He played 257 times and won two league titles at Napoli.

England recorded their first victory in Italy since 1961, with Harry Kane becoming the nation’s all-time record goalscorer in the 2-1 win.

Original article published 23.03.2023 on the BBC Sport website.

To view the full article, click here 

© The Fan Experience Company 2023