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Anger as Guardian transfer report calls Naples 'Mafia stronghold'

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A transfer report by the Guardian which referred to Naples as a 'Mafia stronghold' has received an angry reaction in Italy.

Some Italian journalists have condemned the article on the Guardian's website about Danny Welbeck being linked to Napoli which suggested that Naples was controlled by the Mafia.

The controversial phrases were part of a round-up of football transfer rumours which included Manchester United forward Welbeck being a possible target for Napoli in the summer.

The passage that was regarded as offensive on the Guardian Sport website reads: 

"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."

According to Sportmediaset, the article has enraged many Neapolitans and has met with angry social media comments.

Organised crime can be a sensitive subject in Naples and many feel that the region's reputation has been unfairly tarnished by the operations of the Camorra and the way the city is portrayed in the media.

Many Italian websites, including Datasport and Sportal, have suggested that the sentences in question were misplaced and inappropriate within a transfer story.

Sportal's article points out that it is not the first time that the Mafia has been referenced insensitively in articles by foreign journalists.

German newspaper Die Zeit was criticised in Italy for comments linking Italy and the Mafia after the Azzurri beat Germany at World Cup 2006 and West Ham's game against Palermo in 2006 was marred by many fans wearing 'Hammers v Mafia' shirts, which West Ham officially condemned.

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