THE DIRECTOR’S VIEW
Our latest documentary on Copa90 is a top to bottom exploration of one of the most football-obsessed cities in the world.
Napoli is almost unique in Italy in having just one team and, as a result, that team has come to symbolise the hopes and dreams of the city. It is the means through which they can get away from the stereotypes of mafia corruption and violence, and express a successful, positive identity to the world.
It is the vehicle for every Neapolitan to expel the tensions of everyday life. It is the glue that holds the city together. We have covered every inch of the story from cab drivers to ultras, bar owners to academics, and star players to the family of a tragically murdered fan.
It’s a cliche but, in Napoli, football really is a religion. This is a hymn in celebration of that religion.
THE STORY OF CIRO ESPOSITO
Known most for the Vele, the Sail-like public housing project made infamous in the by the criminal activity that takes place in an around these dilapidating buildings, Scampia is much more than just mafia and violence. It’s the home town of the Esposito family, and the many friends and family whom have always viewed them as leaders in this otherwise forgotten community. This turbulent quarter of the Naples’ urban sprawl has been stereotyped as “Italy’s Favela”, a misconception that is rooted in Italian parochialism and territorial discrimination.
Although the the Vele stand out as a sign of Scampia’s turbulent past, three days with the Esposito family have taught us a great deal about the positivity that this community is able to find in the face of so much adversity.
In May of 2014, ahead of the Coppa Italia final, Ciro Esposito, (a Napoli supporter) was shot and eventually died from injury. The killer, is a man named Daniele De Santis, a known rightist activist and Rome Ultras, also responsible for halting the 2004 derby between Rome and Lazio, claiming a kid had been killed outside of the stadium.
There are several dynamics at play in this whole story. When a person dies, how do we memorialise them? Particularly an individual whose life was taken under such dramatic circumstances, and whose death has been attributed to stadium violence, political violence, territorial discrimination. Childhood friends, comrades of the curva, Scampians,Neapolitans, and politicians are all having their say. Public opinion seems to forget that a family has been torn apart. As Ciro’s mother Antonella calls for peace, forgiving those responsible and seeking out solutions to change the culture of violence in football, others have struggled to reconcile with feeling that Ciro’s death is being hijacked to achieve alternative goals.
Particularly in Italy, supporters groups have always been a patrimony of the societies that birthed them. Diverse traditions and histories are closely linked to the rivalries that manifest themselves amongst supports. However, this is not just a footballing issue. Football becomes the theatre where these tensions are played out, yet they should not be dealt with on a legal level and a phenomenon that is exclusive to the game.
The violence that motivated the events are closely tied to the cultural phenomenon of territorial discrimination. Upon meeting supporters in both Rome and Naples, hearing the public discourse around the squares of both cities, it is clear, at least in their tone, that there is an animosity towards one another that cannot remain unaddressed. Politicians, activists, the police systems, the Italian FA at all levels, and supporters themselves must all reflect on what this phenomenon is creating.
There must be some sort of reform that aims to recognise Italy’s cultural diversity, and use it as a source of strength rather than a reason to divide. The Esposito family have begun a campaign, one that aims to punish major clubs for any instances of racism, and funnel that money directly into a fund to host education courses for youth and parents, as well as a pre-match gathering. This gathering would see supporters groups come from both teams, to spend 45 minutes before the match talking amongst each other. The chants and insulting banners should be tolerated “within reason” but when a kid leaves for a match and doesn’t make it home, we have truly forgotten why we love this game in the first place.