By Chris Wright
Yesterday, Guardian scribe Barry Glendenning attracted an awful lot of heat on Twitter over a paragraph in his transfer rumour round-up in which the Irish journo quipped that Napoli, being a team from “one of Italy’s mafia strongholds,” were planning to make Danny Welbeck an offer he couldn’t refuse.
As the man himself later admitted on Twitter, it was little more than a set-up line for a ‘lame Godfather gag’, but that didn’t stop a wave of ire and protest crashing his way from Italy-wards – with Napoli even going so far as writing an open letter to the sports editor at The Guardian, Ian Prior, demanding an apology for Glendenning’s use of, in their words, “a dated, dumb, vulgar cliché”.
Napoli’s letter reads thus:
In response to the article published in The Guardian, in which it was alleged that Naples is a stronghold of the mafia, Nicola Lombardo, Head of Communications of SSC Napoli, has written a letter to the editor requesting its publishing:
Dear Mr Prior,
I write to you to ask to publish the following message about an article which appeared on the website of such a prestigious newspaper as the Guardian:
“Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon has let Welbeck’s agent know that Napoli are interested in signing up his client, but with Everton and Tottenham also interested, the club from one of Italy’s mafia strongholds will need to make Manchester United and Welbeck himself an offer they can’t refuse.”
I am aware that it can happen that an article is not read carefully before being published. It is possible that as the editor of the Guardian’s sports pages you may not have realised what was written. If not, we would be dismayed to read such a dated, dumb, vulgar cliche as this, linking the city of Naples to the mafia.
This is an archaic impression that is also rejected by English tourists who every year choose Italy – and Napoli – as their holiday destination. They would not do that if they thought that Naples is Italy’s mafia stronghold, a place where people fire at or rob each other in the street.
We would not judge a city like Newcastle on the basis of MTV’s Geordie Shore; we do not think all of that city’s inhabitants are rude, gym-addicted and sociopathic. It is a shame to see the Guardian did not afford Napoli the same courtesy.
I would still prefer to think that you had not read the article, and in this case, I would ask for a correction, in the name of both Neapolitans and Italians.
While we’ll freely admit that we think this has already gone way, way, waaaay too far, we can’t help but smirk at the line about Geordie Shore. That’s gold, right there.
Now, can we all just calm down?