Napoli ultras chant outside open training session demanding ‘respect’ from players amid crisis
Napoli’s players were labelled ‘mercenaries’ as 150 hardcore ultras gathered outside of the Stadio San Paolo to demand respect from the squad — with Lorenzo Insigne AND chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis told to leave.
There is an ongoing dispute between the squad and chairman De Laurentiis after the players refused to travel in retiro (training camp), with manager Carlo Ancelotti initially backing up his players.
And on Thursday afternoon, the fans convened to have their voices heard.
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Napoli fans gathered outside the San Paolo Stadium, chanting and setting off flares
Non-season ticket holders weren’t allowed in to watch the open training session at the ground
Lorenzo Insigne was picked out for plenty of vitriol by fans – who let their feelings be known
The supporters appreciated Dries Mertens heading over to them and offering an apology
The group of ultras held up a banner with ‘respect’ written on it, set off an orange flare and belted out: ‘You are, you are, you are mercenary. Can’t you hear this voice? You were already on your own.’
Hometown star Insigne was picked on repeatedly by the angry mob, due to his role in the dispute, as was the chairman.
The supporters feel the club is being torn apart by both sides. They chanted, ‘Only you’re winning’ at De Laurentiis.
The players trained for the first time since their draw with RB Salzburg on Tuesday inside the ground in front of a number of season ticket holders — with the ultras left outside.
The Napoli players were involved in a training session inside the ground on Thursday
Piotr Zielinski is challenged for the ball as he goes on a dribble during the session
Fernando Llorente takes part in some stretches as Napoli’s players warm up on Thursday
Those inside the ground let the players know their feelings in no uncertain terms but appreciated when Dries Mertens came over to them and gestured an apology for an extended period of time.
Whenever Insigne came near them during the session the boos grew louder.
Those who gathered outside the stadium to protest were the ones without season tickets.
There was also a police presence in the street in case of an escalation of tempers.
Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis had demanded the players go on a training retreat
Tension has been mounting since De Laurentiis ordered the players to go on a week-long training retreat in a bid to improve form.
They refused, jumped in their cars and went home after the Champions League draw earlier this week.
Edo De Laurentiis, the president’s son and vice-president, entered the dressing room after Tuesday night’s game to enforce the training camp decision.
Insigne had a key role to play in the squad refusing to travel for the training camp
Insigne, stepped up and said: ‘Tell your father we are not going in retiro.’
Other senior figures in the room, including Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon, backed him up. Allan, the Brazilian central midfielder, reportedly screamed vulgar words in the vice-president’s face.
De Laurentiis initially went on the defensive, saying the training camp was ‘a chance for the team to get to know each other better’ as opposed to a punishment.
The Napoli players were only in front of season ticket holders during the training session
Ancelotti had originally disagreed with the president’s decision but eventually came round to accept it, ultimately travelling to the training base on the team bus without the players.
Unsurprisingly, the Napoli hierarchy reacted to this insubordination with fury and announced legal action could be taken against the rebellious players.
The statement released by the club placed responsibility for the training retreat squarely on Ancelotti’s shoulders.
There is further tension due to Napoli’s poor performance in Serie A, with the side currently down in seventh.