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Inside bloody world of Italian ultras as they threaten...

THE bloody world of Italian ultras has been exposed after their chilling “battle plans” to attack England fans were foiled.

The terrifying claims follow an “online threat” from an ultra group ahead of this week’s European Championship qualifier between England and Italy.

An Italian ultra group has threatened to attack a group of British football fansRex AFPHooligans linked to Serie A team Napoli have a dangerous reputation[/caption] Earlier this month, there was carnage on the streets of Naples following a clash between Italian and German supportersRex Cars were torched and shop fronts were vandalised near Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, NaplesRex

More than 3,000 Three Lions’ fans are expected to travel for the grudge match – and their welfare is now the chief concern of football officials.

Despite Italian authorities reassuring touring Brits that it would be safe to attend the match, football hardmen say otherwise.

Anthony Phythian, a boxer and former staunch member of Manchester City’s feared Young Guvnors, told The Sun Online the Italian ultra groups were ruthless.

Phythian said: “I first came across the Naples ultras around 2011 when they came to Manchester.

“They were very intent on what they wanted to do.

“Like other Italian clubs I’ve come across, they have a serious dislike for the English.

“Their weapon of choice is their belt.

“They usually wear them with big buckles and then take them off and use them as a weapon.”

The FA on Tuesday told England fans travelling to the match not to wear belts as they could be confiscated by officials over fears they could be used as weapons.

The bloodthirsty hooligans who targeted the English supporters ahead of the Euro match were reportedly from the Napoli ultras.

The group has one of the worst reputations in Europe for extreme violence and have been known to use knives, bats and even Molotov cocktails to quell their rival supporters.

At 39, ex-hooligan Phythian admitted he had seen a lot of football violence in his time but said the Italian thugs were a shameless mob.

Phythian said: “I have not been to Naples myself but a lot of the old boys have.

“When speaking to people who went to Naples for the away fixture, they told me guys on mopeds were scouting bars and looking for City fans.

“Later on they would see guys wearing motorcycle helmets in large groups coming to attack them.

“I’d say football hooliganism on the continent is definitely on the rise.”

Another football mad Brit, Dave Morrison, said he has been to Naples twice and was in no hurry to return.

He said: “It is one of the most dangerous places to go as an away supporter.”

Ex-Man City hardman Anthony Phythian turned his life around and became a pro boxer FacebookA bystander captured the moment a group of Napoli ultras brandishing weapons stormed an alleyway in Italy[/caption] More than 3,00 Brits are expected to the travel to the Euro qualifierGetty

Meanwhile a chilling message sent to a top English fan has raised serious concerns.

Earlier this week, a threatening email purporting to be from a Naples ultra group was sent to a member of the “EnglandfansFC”.

Garford Beck, organiser and lifelong England fan, was the man on the receiving end of it and immediately raised concerns with football officials.

His team of fans were set to play a friendly match against their Italian counterparts in celebration of the international showdown.

The 60-year-old told the Times he feared for his team’s safety.

He said: “I received a very sinister and threatening email purporting to be from the Napoli ultras this morning.

“It read, ‘You advertise this game for us to see where you’ll be. We will be there. 60 ultra to get you. Be warned.’

“I’ve been in contact with my oppo at the FIGC [Italian FA].

“I showed it to him and said ‘can you show it to the local authorities and police and see if they think it is a viable threat.’

“Our contact at the FIGC spoke with their security officer.

“They came back and said, ‘We are very concerned.’

“They are treating it very seriously and have judged it to be a viable threat.”

Despite the Italian FA efforts to monitor the situation, the friendly match was later called off on Monday afternoon.

Nevertheless, the Euro fixture will still go ahead and is set to take place at Napoli’s Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Thursday – an area fraught with the threat of danger for visiting supporters.

Just last week, the streets of Naples were overwhelmed with thuggish violence before Napoli’s Champions League match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

The German supporters defied a police ban and clashed with Napoli ultras, which left more than eight hooligans arrested.

Pictures showed the total carnage with shop fronts smashed up, cars lit on fire and masked thugs storming alleyways with weapons as they hunted their rival supporters.

The ultras in Italy are said to have links to the MafiaRex Shutterstock The masked thugs have killed each other for decades in ItalyMirrorpix

Who are Italy’s football hooligans?

Italy’s notorious ultras are essentially violent gangs attached to footie teams, who fight in the streets on match day.

The thugs have been known to attack their victims with pick-axe handles, iron bars, chains, grenades, flare-guns, axes, knives and pistols.

A lot of ultras claim they care nothing about football and it’s all about territorial defence, the fights and the “mentality”.

There are an estimated 4,000 ultras in Italy – with the numbers of fans joining these hardcore groups on the rise.

All the major terraces of Italian stadiums are run by the ultras who receive free tickets and political support because the force of their numbers is so great.

Tobias Jones, author of Ultra: The Underworld of Italian Football, explored the expansion of the violent football underworld.

Jones said: “Everyone says that being an ultra is a way of life.

“But it’s a way of life that has evolved, mutated, regenerated and reinvented itself.

“It truly hurts me to see what happens on the terraces now.

“There’s been an escalation and we’ve gone from fist-fights to knives, from knives to flares, from flares to ambushes, to Molotov cocktails, to bombs and to pistols.

“It keeps getting worse.”

A surface-to-air missile was seized by cops from an Ultra groupItalian Police

Criminal underworld

Most ultra groups have strong links to organised crime syndicates, including the Mafia.

Some of the biggest groups are the Droogs of Juventus, named after the violent thugs in A Clockwork Orange, and Lazio’s Irriducibili.

In 2019, the head of Irriducibili was convicted of dealing hundreds of kilos of cocaine in the capital.

Cops claim 30 per cent of ultras are either petty or major-league criminals.

The vast majority of groups also have neo-fascist names, symbols, slogans and salutes, invoking the words and ideals of Hitler and Mussolini, and despise foreigners.

Many ultra groups have links to the far right and each has a “president” or capo, who gives orders at military style meetings ahead of matches.

It is at these meetings that members decide on match slogans, songs, attacks and ambushes.

Ultra members usually dress identically and have been known to spend tens of thousands of euros on what they call “choreographies” – stadium mosaics, taunts, flags and flares.

An ultra group’s own banner is like a military herald and they will fight to the death for it.

Corbis - GettyLazio fans clash with riot police at the end of the derby match in the Serie A[/caption]

Generations of bloodshed

Violence has been associated with Italian football since the dawn of time.

The term “ultra” was first used in the 1820s but it garnered more sinister connotations in 1970.

Following a match that year, fans followed a referee to the airport and destroyed everything in their path, which a journalist witnessed and subsequently labelled them with the term.

Ultras inhabit a world where nicknames emerge from surnames or faces or habits – Zorro earned the nickname when he cut a Z into the cheek of an enemy.

There was a tradition in many grounds that the turnstiles would be opened for the last 15 minutes of the match to allow those who couldn’t afford a ticket to come in.

For the ultras it was an excuse to leave the ground and go hunting for their rivals.

It was what they called the “passeggiata” – which translates to “stroll”.

ReutersIn March, riot cops nullified the terrifying scenes in Naples[/caption] Getty Images - GettyUltras spend thousands of pounds on flares and banners for games[/caption] GettyBanners of Napoli Ultras sail in the air[/caption] Inside bloody world of Italian ultras as they threaten chilling ‘battle plan’ to attack England fans for Euros match

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