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May 5, 2014

Napoli fan's mother forgives shooter

The mother of the Napoli fan shot in clashes before Saturday night's Coppa Italia final in Rome says she forgives her son's assailant but cannot comprehend why he would resort to such violence.

Ciro Esposito remains in a critical condition following the incident before Napoli's 3-1 victory over Fiorentina, although an operation to remove the bullet from his body on Sunday was successful.

"He wasn't armed," Antonella Leardi, Esposito's mother, said, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I gave him three Casatielli [a Neapolitan savoury snack], which I had baked myself. I cannot find the words to describe this monstrosity. In my heart, I have already forgiven him, but I just cannot understand what he has done.

"Maybe I am wrong, but I don't hate him. We're all Italians, but what is all this about? All I can do is pray. I told my son, 'Be careful, it's dangerous', but I never thought it would be this bad. I could never have imagined them ending up shooting, and shooting at my Ciro."

According to a reconstruction of the incident, based on eyewitness accounts, a group of Roma fans attacked the Napoli followers using flares, fireworks and missiles.

Police said one of them -- Daniele De Santis -- then used a firearm. He has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

"I hope that he does not pay for his love of Napoli with his life," the victim's uncle said. "Ciro works in a car wash -- a legal one in Scampia. He washes cars from eight in the morning until eight at night and is not part of organised fan groups. He buys his tickets and follows Napoli everywhere.

"Ciro had parked his car, together with another of our nephews, in the places reserved for fans and he was hit by fireworks and stones, and then this man appeared together with three or four others and they shot at Ciro, hitting his lung. Our other nephew called the police, but it took a long time for the ambulance to arrive -- it came an hour-and-a-half later."

The cup final started was delayed by 45 minutes as a result of the disorder. Napoli fans had not wanted the match to proceed until club captain Marek Hamsik met with one of the main ultra group's leaders to receive consent for the game to start.

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