As Napoli ride high, a city shirks off superstition
By Tomás Frutos
Naples, Italy, Mar 17 (EFE).- Napoli are unstoppable at the moment, to the point where the team’s victories on the pitch are almost paling into insignificance and a city that is normally deeply superstitious is already preparing to celebrate the looming third Serie A title.
This belief in the team that sits atop the Italian top-flight with 18 points to spare is rendered through tattoos, murals of its star players lifting the trophy and a city decked out in the sky blue colors of the club.
Naples, a city that lives and breathes football, is alive with anticipation.
Save for a last minute collapse, Napoli all but have their hands on the Serie A trophy for the third time in the team’s history.
For Naples, the team’s success is almost an act of rebellion in a divided country where for the last 20 years football has been dominated by northern powerhouses such as Juventus, Inter and AC Milan.
“Let’s say that the city, compared to other years when we have always been superstitious, has left behind this superstition and it appears things are going well. The results are proving us right,” Salvattore Russo, a tattoo artist who has already inked Serie A title art on his clients, tells Efe.
“I did the first on January 30, after the Napoli-Roma game. It’s kind of gone viral and everyone is leaving superstition to one side. I must have done another 15 by now, and there are others who have reserved. There will be a lot more,” he adds.
The Spanish Quarter is the beating heart of the city where football is religion and the venerated Diego Armando Maradona is considered a deity.
Now, among the icons dedicated to Maradona, a hero who guided Napoli to Serie A glory in 1988 and 1990, are the faces of his modern-day disciples – Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Victor Osimhen and head coach Luciano Spalletti.
Down one of the side streets in the city, a local bar has not missed out on the opportunity to celebrate and has done so by putting out some life-size cardboard cut-outs of the current Napoli squad.
All this despite there still being three months until the end of the season and one month until Napoli can mathematically be declared champions.
And when the team finally does win the league, the locals are not quite sure what to expect.
“I’m not sure what will happen, to tell you the truth, because the Neapolitans normally throw huge parties. I can’t even imagine what will happen here,” the owner of the bar, Anna, says.
Napoli fans are currently in football heaven. Not only is the team top of Serie A, but they are into the last eight of the Uefa Champions League.
In Naples, though, it is the domestic league that gets the pulse rate up.
“Champions or Scudetto (Serie A)? Good question, but I prefer the Scudetto because it is more of a spectacle, a victory that lasts a century,” a Napoli fan tells Efe.EFE