The tension quickly rose on Wednesday March 15 in the afternoon in Naples, on the sidelines of the knockout stages of the Champions League. Fans of German club Eintracht Frankfurt without tickets clashed with Italian law enforcement: many German ultras, hooded and dressed in black, threw projectiles and smoke bombs at police officers who responded with jets tear gas, according to images broadcast by Italian media. A police car caught fire.

This violence, concentrated in a square in the historic center of the city, occurred when the supporters of the German club had not been authorized to buy tickets for this meeting, after a ping-pong between the Italian authorities and the club, against the backdrop of the risk of disturbing public order.

Despite this context, several hundred German supporters were present during the day in Naples, according to an AFP journalist. Before the clashes in the afternoon, they had gathered at the foot of their hotel on the seaside and had wandered through the city center, under the control of the police and a helicopter.

Eintracht supporters were evacuated from the city center around 6 p.m. by several buses, according to Italian media. According to Eintracht board member Philipp Reschke, the clashes were sparked by a group of some 150 Neapolitans, who attacked German fans while they were being escorted by police. “It was a bit like the groups had sought and found each other. The most important thing is that there are no injuries. Not even among the police,” he told German daily Bild.

The mayor of Naples, Gaetano Manfredi, quoted by the Italian agency Ansa, denounced “crazy and unacceptable devastation”. “Tonight’s violence must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Violators and troublemakers are destroying sport,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser tweeted.

Eintracht and its supporters have been under close surveillance by UEFA since last season, following the invasion of the pitch and the use of pyrotechnic devices in its Waldstadion, after qualifying for the final of the Europa League against West Ham in May. In September, incidents had already broken out in Marseille (France) between supporters of OM and Eintracht, with smoke bombs exchanged between stands and a seriously injured Frankfurt supporter. German supporters also gave Nazi salutes.