As we all know there is that old Italian saying: “vedi Napoli e poi muori” (see Naples and die). Well, for any woman who has ever been to a soccer game at San Paolo Stadium in Naples, that proverb should be: “go to the stadium and you may die!” Surely, she gests, you think to yourself, but alas, there is an iota of possiblity in the proverb.
SSC Napoli Calcio is very important to someone I love very much; so, of course, I would want to go to a Naples soccer match when invited…………life is an adventure and you should explore most things at least once, right? That is the true wanderlust spirit. Now let me preface this by saying that I am a Bronx native, former NYC investigative reporter and rabid Yankee fan. I have seen crazed BoSox maniacs attack Yankee fans on their home turf but I have never seen anything like the Ultras Napoletani. They are not the fans we see on TV in America.
When we watch the games on RAI TV in New York we only see the empty stadium seats which are expensive….the cameras never scan the crowds to show thousands of fans in the upper decks who buy season tickets and follow SSC Napoli to all points of the globe and beyond. They are a drug-fueled, testosterone-driven, economically-frustrated bunch of maniacs. And I say that with all possible admiration; well, sort of!
Just watch this YouTube video as the roar from the crowd swells…….fast-forward to the end, if you must, see what happens when Naples scores a goal. My first clue should have been when I entered the stadium and noticed missing seats and dirty chairs. I naively thought it was an old stadium and would be refurbished when they got around to it. Ha! The Ultras literally rip the seats from the concrete when Napoli scores a goal. They light flares in the stadium to cheer them on (can you see this happening in the Bronx – fire in the hole!) Further, the contact high from all of the marijuana would be enough to make an entire city happy!
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I just sat there in awe……..and fear……..wondering why Italy doesn’t harness the raw power in these men. Their energy would be enough to light up Naples for a year! On a more serious note, this is a city plagued with economic despair and bringing the World Cup into it for 2016 would require another major overhaul of San Paolo. I think with so many men out of work and so many of them dedicated to SSC Napoli, there’s a natural synergy here to benefit everyone. By the way, take a tip on the ladies’ bathrooms – let a woman design them when you’re ready. Something more than a dirt hole with an open grate would be greatly appreciated. (Never thought I would come to appreciate the long lines at the ladies’ rooms of so many American stadiums!)
All in all, I am very glad that I went. It was the adventure of a lifetime. I loved the wild ride and loved the man who thought enough to huddle me in a protective cocoon each time Naples came anywhere near scoring a goal.