Italian flare! England fans prepare for the match after hours of drinking in the sun ahead of Euro 2024 qualifying game in Naples tonight
- Thousands of Three Lions fans have travelled to the city on the Mediterranean
- Local officials banned the sale of alcohol amid fears of potential hooliganism
- England fans have been seen drinking under the watchful eye of the local police
England fans have been creating a party atmosphere in Naples today as they set off flares and spent hours drinking in the sun ahead of their Euro 2024 qualifying match against Italy.
Three Lions supporters have travelled in large numbers to Italy’s third largest city ahead what is set to be a crunch match for both sides looking to qualify for next summer’s tournament in Germany.
Photos from Naples today show England fans have been enjoying themselves in the Mediterranean sunshine in the hours ahead of kick-off.
Local Government officials had imposed a ban on alcohol amid fears of potential violence between the two sets of fans – but there was no sign of these rules being followed, with police allowing English supporters to drink openly.
It is the first time the teams have played each other since the Euro 2020 final, which the Azzurri won on penalties at Wembley in 2021.
Supporters created a party atmosphere by cheering and setting off flares in the centre of Naples
Despite a local ban on alcohol, many Three Lions fans have been seen drinking beer under the watchful eye of police
Both national teams will be looking to bounce back from recent disappointments – it will be England’s first match since losing to France in the World Cup quarter finals in December, while Italy failed to qualify for the tournament at all.
Tonight’s match at the 54,726-capacity Stadio Diego Armando Maradona will see both teams looking to get Group C qualifying off to the best possible start.
Locals appeared indifferent to the England fans although Italian media had warned that ‘hooligans’ were on their way and the city should prepare itself.
However, there has been no sign of police imposing these rules, with many English supporters seen drinking beer in the historic city at the feet of the Mount Vesuvius.
Despite the alcohol ban, many places took extra deliveries to keep up with thirsty England fans as the cloud melted away and the warm spring sunshine covered the city.
One cafe owner said: ‘They always announce an alcohol ban but it’s very rarely observed. This is good for business. I’m having my best takings since lockdown.’
England fans were even seen picking up empty bottles of beer and helping staff clear up in the square by the port.
Even local media questioned the enforcing of the alcohol ban as one website ran pictures of England fans openly drinking outside bars.
Two England fans raise a glass as they drink beer near Castel Nuovo in Naples this afternoon
Fans cheer as they stand in front of an England flag in Naples ahead of tonight’s European Championship qualifying match
Some fans have been on their best behaviour by tidying up their empty beer bottles after hours drinking in the sunshine
England fans cheer as flares are set off before kick-off at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples tonight
A man puts used beer battles in a bag as England fans congregate in central Naples this afternoon
Thousands of England fans have travelled to Italy for tonight’s match, with many enjoying drinks in the Mediterranean sunshine
Despite local officials banning the sale of alcohol over fears of hooliganism, many fans have had no trouble getting their hands on beer ahead of kick-off
Middlesbrough FC fans carry a St George’s flag as they walk though Naples on Thursday afternoon
Supporters of Bury FC carry a United Kingdom flag as they drink and relax ahead of kick-off
An England fan lies down on a bench in central Naples on Thursday afternoon ahead of the game
Half and half Italy and England scarves on sale at a stall outside the stadium before tonight’s match
The headline read: ‘In Naples no one seems to be respecting the alcohol ban – in fact everyone is toasting Italy v England.’
No one from Naples city council or the police was immediately able to comment on the flagrant flouting when MailOnline contacted them.
The ban on alcohol in the city is in place from 7am until midnight following the match, with the Italian police and council authorities hoping to stamp out trouble.
More than 2,500 Three Lions supporters are expected at the Diego Maradona stadium with the away section said to be ‘sold out’ in what has been flagged as a ‘high risk’ game.
There is unease in the city after running battles last week following Eintracht Frankfurt’s visit in the Champions League and which also saw police cars set on fire.
On the pitch England manager Gareth Southgate will be hoping for a strong start to qualifying for Euro 2024, which is being held in Germany next summer.
The Three Lions have been drawn in Group C with Italy, Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta.
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