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Napoli may host Arsenal in empty stadium

Napoli-fansThe potential Champions League decider between Napoli and Arsenal on match day six could be played behind closed doors if UEFA decides to close the Stadio San Paolo due to recent crowd disturbances.

The Serie A side have received repeated warnings from Europe’s governing body to exercise better control over the conduct of their fans, but incidents inside and around the stadium prior to and during their 3-2 win over Marseille earlier this month have tested UEFA’s patience.

The bus bringing Marseille players to the ground had its windscreen smashed and during the game, both sets of fans lit flares and threw fireworks after stewards failed to confiscate the prohibited items at the gates. As a result, UEFA could force Napoli to stage their final Group F fixture against the Gunners behind closed doors on Dec. 11.

The solicitor to the Serie A club, Mattia Grassani, remains hopeful that fans will still be allowed to attend and potentially celebrate their progress into the knockout phase.

“The UEFA delegates recognised that Napoli have made improvements in the way they organise things in the report they submitted at the end of the Marseille game,” he told the local Il Mattino newspaper. “They highlighted how everybody had worked together to improve the success of the sporting event.

“If all we get is a fine, then that would be a great result.”

In all likelihood, Napoli will need to beat Arsenal on match day six in order to progress to the knockout stages. That task will be a lot harder if they don’t have the passionate support of a packed San Paolo, where they have already beaten Dortmund 2-1 and Marseille 3-2 this season.