Roy Hodgson And Ultras Proved Their Point

Italian police have admitted gangs of Napoli's hardcore Ultra fans went out hunting Liverpool supporters to attack in the city last night. There were a number of incidents ahead of the club's Europa League match at the Stadio San Paolo, which resulted in five English people - two of whom were stabbed - and one Italian being taken to hospital.

Their injuries were not deemed to be serious and all were discharged after receiving treatment but it has prompted police to step up security ahead of the game. There were three arrests made after the attacks last night and police recovered an array of weapons and Ultra paraphernalia from the home of one. Among the weapons seized were a baseball bat, several five-foot long aluminium bars with numerous strategically-placed screws protruding and a six-foot wooden plank. All three of the arrested men have criminal records and one has been convicted of football-related violence and is banned from Napoli's Stadio San Paolo.

There were reports that two men suffered knife wounds after being slashed across the buttocks and upper thighs. Buttock slashing is common in clashes with Italy's notorious 'Ultras' as it is not life threatening but painful and embarrassing for the victim. The two were attacked in the historic city centre close to the infamous Forcella district, the heartland of the local Naples Mafia known as the Camorra. The area is blighted by crime and only locals go into the area with tourists strongly advised to avoid the district. Football violence in Italy is not uncommon, with an international fixture against Serbia abandoned earlier this month. On that occasion Serbian fans clashed with police outside the stadium and threw flares onto the pitch in Genoa.

"Ultras went out seeking English fans, absolutely. There are groups of violent supporters here in Naples so we could hypothesise something like this would happen but it was impossible to prevent every attack everywhere. We are organising more patrols to prevent these kind of attacks.But the city is so great - 1.5million inhabitants - that it is impossible to prevent and control everything. " said Filippo Bonfiglio, head of DIGOS, the local department which deals with terrorism and political activity.

Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson's gamble in leaving at home a handful of his senior players - including Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard - paid off in some respect as his side claimed a well-earned Europa League draw against Napoli in the Stadio San Paolo. Fourth in Serie A, Napoli were expected to present a formidable challenge, particularly given the hostility generated by a capacity Stadio San Paolo crowd, yet it never materialised. Many tipped the hopelessly out-of-form Reds for defeat after bringing a weakened side to Naples, but they withstood long spells of pressure to leave with a point.

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