ROME — Thousands of Napoli football fans who poured into the streets to celebrate their team’s Italian Cup title without social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic were criticized by health officials as being “reckless.”
World Health Organization assistant director general Ranieri Guerra said the scenes reminded him of Atalanta’s Champions League game with Valencia in February. That match, which has been labeled “Game Zero” by local media, is believed to have been a key factor in why the virus has been so deadly in the northern city of Bergamo.
“Reckless,” Guerra said. “Right now we can’t permit these things.”
Deputy Health Minister Sandra Zampa added that it amounted to “dangerous behavior.”
Shortly after Napoli beat Juventus in an empty stadium in Rome on Wednesday night for the team’s first title in six years, supporters in Naples flooded into central piazzas and set off fireworks as they celebrated into the early hours of Thursday morning. Hardly any of them were seen wearing masks.
While nearly 35,000 people have died in Italy from the coronavirus, the Campania region that includes Naples has accounted for 431 deaths.
Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris called the criticism “hypocritical.”
“Either the games shouldn’t have been played until September or in some way what happened the other night was inevitable,” De Magistris said.
“Only people who don’t know Naples could think that after a victory over the Juventus of (Maurizio) Sarri and (Gonzalo) Higuain that Neapolitans would remain at home to celebrate,” the mayor