South West Wales

Europa League: Swansea City complaint over fans' delays in Naples

Swansea fans in Napoli Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Up to 700 of the 900 Swansea City fans visiting Naples missed the kick-off, the club says

Swansea City will make an official complaint to Naples police and Uefa after hundreds of fans missed the start of Thursday's match against Napoli.

The club condemned "unnecessary and deplorable delays" in transporting supporters to the stadium in Naples from the designated collection points.

Buses from Rome were delayed and it took over two hours for 200 fans to get from the port of Naples to the stadium.

A club spokesman said: "For our fans to be treated in this way is deplorable.

"There is simply no excuse and we will be demanding answers from both Uefa and the Naples authorities."

The spokesman added: "To make matters worse, this is not the first time this has happened to visiting fans in Naples. Arsenal fans suffered the same fate there in the Champions League recently.


"We thought we had done everything possible to alleviate any issues for our fans. We sent a delegation from the club, South Wales Police and the Football Association to Naples last month to discuss previous problems with the local police.

"We thought we had made positive progress because we were given assurances that previous issues would not be repeated for Swansea City fans. Unfortunately, most of the promises and assurances we were given were not honoured on the night.

"We did everything possible on the night to rectify the situation by getting the British consulate, Uefa delegates and Napoli officials involved. Unfortunately we had no control over events.

"As a club, we appreciate the tremendous support our fans have given us over the years. Having travelled so far to support the club at substantial cost, for them to be treated in this manner is nothing short of disgraceful.

"Our supporters were impeccably behaved in Italy and were again a credit to the club. For them to be treated in this manner is totally unacceptable.''

Image copyright AP
Image caption Swansea's Wilfried Bony tries to tackle Gokhan Inler of Napoli, who won 3-1

Many fans said they missed the first half hour of the game at the Stadio San Paolo, a second-leg tie in the Europa League's Round of 32 following a goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium.

Swansea lost the return match 3-1 and are out of the competition.

South Wales Police will also be submitting a report to Uefa, the governing body for football in Europe and organisers of the Europa League competition, on the policing and security arrangements surrounding the match.

Superintendent Phil Davies, the force's match commander, said: "Officers travelled with club stewards to Naples and we fully understand the frustrations of the Swansea fans who made the trip to support their team.

"We did everything possible to prepare for the tie by working with the Italian police and both clubs and this was reflected in a very successful policing and security operation for the game at the Liberty Stadium."

Fans' fury

Phil Sumbler, chairman of Swansea City Supporters' Trust, was on one of the buses and told BBC Wales: "It was massively frustrating.

"We had read the reports of the same thing happening to Arsenal when they came over in December.

"It seems to be a deliberate ploy by the police to keep the Napoli fans away from us and Uefa should be looking at this.

"Why should visiting fans miss the start of the game because of the home fans? Uefa should clamp down."

The supporters had been advised to forsake public transport for a convoy of buses escorted by police from the port area to the Stadio San Paolo to avoid possible clashes with Napoli fans.

Uefa said the issue was a matter for the local authorities.

A spokesman added: "In the official report to Uefa, nothing is mentioned. If it happened outside the stadium, then it's a matter for the local authorities. It is outside the Uefa umbrella."

Police in Naples have been asked to comment.

Arsenal, along with the Football Association and British consulate, wrote to Uefa following their game against Napoli in December after plans put in place ahead of the trip did not happen on the night.

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