Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has called on his club's fans to show "maximum sporting respect" during and after Friday's top-of-the-table clash at Roma.
De Laurentiis, a movie producer, will be following the game from Los Angeles and is hoping for as good a performance from the playing stars as the supporting cast watching.
“I hope it’s a civil battle, focused on maximum sporting respect, both on the field and in the stands and, for this, I appeal to our fans to be as extraordinary as they always are, whether we win, lose or draw,” De Laurentiis said. “There will be an audience of over a billion people all over the world.”
Napoli go into the game two points behind their hosts, who boast a 100 percent record after eight games of the season. They will take to the field at the Stadio Olimpico without any inferiority complex, however, according to their president.
“Napoli never have had and never will have fear of anybody,” De Laurentiis told Rai television. “We have a magnificent coach, extraordinary players and we can play with our heads held high against anybody.”
That applies not only to Friday night’s game, but also to the remainder of the season. “It’s going to be a three-horse race,” predicted De Laurentiis. “But I hope other teams join us, like Inter or Fiorentina. Then let’s see who can resist the longest.”
Napoli coach Rafa Benitez will follow that game from his habitual place on the touchline, but he will get a taste of life among Azzurri fans when he attends Italy’s World Cup qualifier against Armenia on Tuesday night.
“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere which the San Paolo always offers,” he wrote on his own website. “It will be the first time I follow a game in our stadium as a spectator, sharing a place with our die-hards, our fans.
“They have shown me enough already this season what it means to be close to the team in an absolutely unconditional manner, transforming themselves into energy for the players. It’s a sporting example for the rest. Good luck to our Lorenzo Insigne and, as always Forza Napoli!”