Napoli players named during football violence probe

16 February 2012 01:17

A number of Napoli players have been named in an investigation into a group of Ultra fans suspected of involvement in violent football related crimes.

Eleven members of the notorious 'Bronx' group of Ultras were arrested in Naples on Tursday morning in a sting operation that followed a two-year investigation.

They are accused of a committing and being associated with a number of football-related crimes in Italy and on foreign shores.

But in announcing the arrests, Naples public prosecutor Giovanni Melillo claimed some Napoli players were friends with the leaders of the Bronx group.

"Some Napoli players maintain contacts with the Ultra groups because they believe they can influence the club's choices when it comes to renewing contracts," said Melillo.

He named Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi as someone who knows Antonio Lo Russo, the son of a suspected clan leader Salvatore.

And former Napoli defender Fabiano Santacroce, now with Parma, is said to have been friends with the head of the Bronx Francesco Fuccia, who was arrested on Thursday, and had even visited him when Fuccia was under house arrest.

Santacroce is supposed to have been introduced to Fuccia by club captain Paolo Cannavaro.

Although Santacroce was interviewed during the investigation as an witness he is not directly involved while Cannavaro has nothing to do with the case.

None of the players are suspected of being involved themselves in criminal activity.

The 11 men arrested are accused of having organised and taken part in violent clashes with rival fans and police at games in 2010 between Napoli and Atalanta, Udinese, Steaua Bucharest and Liverpool.

In the last of those, seven English fans and five police officers were injured in the violence.

A total of 57 members of the Bronx gang, identified by a distinctive tatoo, were under investigation.

A number of materials and objects used in the violence were seized from the homes of those arrested.

Source: AFP