NAPOLI’S players have reportedly ‘hired bodyguards’ as they fear ‘revenge attacks’ from their own fans as the club’s civil war continues.
After a woeful start to the Serie A season, president Aurelio De Laurentiis demanded the squad go on a ‘retreat’ to improve morale and relationships.
But this was rejected out of hand by the players, and boss Carlo Ancelotti was also reportedly against the idea.
It led to fans protesting outside the stadium with banners and flares, demanding that the players, management and owners treat them with “respect”.
And now, according to Football Italia, the players are “living in fear of being attacked by their own ultras”.
It has also being reported that star striker Lorenzo Insigne’s wife Genoveffa Darone has “fled Naples”.
And Insigne’s team-mates Piotr Zielinski and and Allan have both been the “victims of vandalism” with the latter having his house burgled.
So often up challenging for the Serie A title in recent years, Napoli find themselves seventh in the league table.
And a 0-0 draw with strugglers Genoa at the weekend did little ease tensions.
The crisis erupted after owner Aurelio De Laurentiis ordered the team into a week-long training retreat, known as a “ritiro”, on Monday.
ANCELOTTI FACING THE HEAT
This is despite such camps seen by players as demeaning and outdated.
Coach Ancelotti, whose future is now the subject of speculation, publicly disapproved.
And there were widespread reports that the players had ignored the decision following last week’s 1-1 draw with Salzburg in the Champions League.
The club responded with a strongly-worded statement which implied it would fine the players or even take legal action against them.
There were also reports of a dressing-room row between players and Di Laurentiis’ son Edoardo, who is vice-president, and also an angry video call between Ancelotti and De Laurentiis senior.
De Laurentiis, 70, a prominent Italian film producer, has resurrected Napoli since buying them in 2004 after they had been declared bankrupt and relegated to Serie C.
However, he also has a tendency for making incendiary declarations, for falling out with his coaches – such as Ancelotti’s predecessor Maurizio Sarri– and a reputation for interfering in team selection.