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Naples Goes Buck Wild After Coppa Italia Triumph Over Juventus

Last night in Rome, Napoli captured the Coppa Italia by defeating Juventus on penalties to send Naples into raptures. There are few cities on the planet that are so culturally and socially intertwined with their football club, and a first major honor since 2014 — coupled with the fact that it was achieved against Cristiano Ronaldo and 94-year rival Juve — drew fans out onto the streets to celebrate into the early hours.

The match itself was played behind closed doors as Italy continues its fight against COVID-19, although the country’s Ministry of Health is aiming to get fans back in stadiums by August or September. The nation introduced the Western world to the horrors and devastation that the virus can bring, but its presence in Italy remains largely centered in the north.

The hardest hit region (and one that remains a statistical outlier with regards to new cases) is Lombardy, which has experienced 92,302 cases and 16,482 deaths. Second is Piedmont — the region that includes Juventus’ home of Turin — with 31,143 cases and 4,026 deaths. The situation has been different in the south with Campania — where Naples is the regional capital — recording 4,843 cases and 431 deaths.

Yesterday, Campania reported only one new COVID-19 case and one death. 

For Naples, as with the rest of Southern Italy, the viruses’ impact has been largely financial. Even before the virus came unemployment rates in the five regions south of Rome stood at 20% and as high as 50% for youth, and new reports say that roughly 27% of Italians are now at risk of poverty. 

Given the fear, uncertainty and foreboding that’s gripped the city over the past months — and the lack of state aid that’s led to anger and independent organization — it wasn’t surprising to see Napoli supporters flood the streets last night to celebrate victory in what must’ve felt like a two-front war. 

However, after watching the aftermath of March’s Atalanta vs. Valencia game and with knowledge of the fact that Naples is Italy’s most densely populated city and has a medical system that’s chronically underfunded, it’s hard not to look at the images with some trepidation.

“The parties in the square are wretched, doomed to create huge problems,” said Italian World Health Organization representative Dr Ranieri Guerra. “At this moment of the pandemic, we cannot afford to do this. Fortunately, it happened in Naples, where the Governor and Mayor have for months put very rigid lockdown rules into action, meaning the virus is less present than in other cities.

“However, I want to remind everyone how damaging it was for Lombardy at the start of the virus when Atalanta played Valencia in the Champions League. I would hate for the contagion to grow again just as the technical scientific committee loosened the FIGC quarantine restrictions. It really hurts to see these images.”

Embed from Getty Images

Napoli’s Serie A season resumes on Tuesday, June 23 against Hellas Verona. The club also plays the second leg of its Champions League Round of 16 tie against Barcelona on either August 7 or 8.  

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