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Napoli fans barred from Roma match amidst security concerns

There won't be many Napoli-favoring voices in the crowd at the Derby del Sole later this month.

Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

When Napoli and AS Roma square off in arguably the most important Derby del Sole in years on April 25th, there will be precious few fans in support of Napoli in Rome. That's because the FIGC has decided to bar the sale of tickets to the match from anyone living in Naples or the Campania region as a whole, citing security concerns.

Before you start crying "BIAS!" this isn't actually all that surprising a decision. Roma and Napoli have long been bitter rivals, with a number of notable clashes between the two fanbases over the years culminating in the brutal street attack before the Coppa Italia final in 2014 that cost Ciro Esposito his life. Away fan bans have been in place for every Derby del Sole match in Rome since that awful day, and for all but one in Naples as well, so there's a lot of precedent and history at work in the decision.

Still, it's an unfortunate one for Napoli given the importance and timing of the match. It's easy to see that match being a major deciding factor for which of Napoli or Roma finish second in Serie A, the second and last guaranteed spot in the Champions League group stage that Italian teams get. Third place still gets you to the qualifying rounds, but as Napoli and Lazio discovered the last two years, that's no guarantee of entrance to the group stage.

Given the importance of the match, it would be good to have as many Napoli fans as possible cheering the team on, but considering the potential security nightmare it's understandable that the league would take such a precaution. There will still be some Napoli fans in the stands -- there's plenty of ways around such a ban, after all -- but the number will be far lower than normal. Hopefully it will be enough to spur Napoli on to the big result they need.