Truly, one of the world’s greatest ever players, Maradona is idolised as much in Naples as in his native Argentina.
Wherever you look, his image is seemingly ever present. Preserved in murals, graffiti and tattoos, Maradona is a constant on the streets of Naples where his heroics on the pitch elevated him to a place in the hearts of the supporters as the shrines in his honour testify.
In Naples, he argues, that is Maradona, and his work is “a testament to the endless romance” that exists between the city and their favourite adopted son.
Explains Tione: “Monotheistic Religion definitely is a provocative title, since Naples isn’t a monotheistic city at all, but quite the opposite. When it comes to football, in the hearts of Neapolitans there’s only one god: Diego Armando Maradona.
Tione has identified the bond that exists between players and their fans, epitomised by their love and devotion to Maradona.
“I think that the love and passion of the people always remains the best part of football,” he said. “Documenting this love in its thousand shades is wonderful.”
He began his project five years ago.
“During one of my many walks through the Quartieri Spagnoli (a vibrant neighborhood in Naples) I randomly found a poster of Maradona,” he said.
“It was made by Santiago Spiga, an artist from Argentina. Because of this artistic piece I decided to start documenting all the expressions of love, the urban art and other tributes to Maradona that I would find in the city.
“I found it very important to document them as I believe that they are an integral part of the history and football culture of this city.”
Creativity and culture go hand in hand for Tione.
“With a lot of humility I’d say that I’m a content creator, because I’m a photographer,” he said. “I also work for Escape Vision, a Neapolitan magazine on urban culture. I write, create videos and sometimes also do graphics for them.”
He graduated in Cultural Heritage in Naples and is currently studying for his master’s degree in Management of Cultural Heritage.
“I’m a Napoli fan of course,” he said, “but I grew up with my father being an AC Milan fan. So in my home we only supported and talked about AC Milan. Once grown up, one begins to develop personal passions. Luckily those are often different.”
He watched AC Milan in the early 2000s.
“The first players that drove me crazy (in a positive way) were Andriy Shevchenko, Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane immediately after Ricardo Kakà.
“The first match I saw live was Napoli against Milan in 2008 at the San Paolo stadium. Won by Napoli 3-1. So the first great players I saw live were Kakà, Maldini, Nesta and Seedorf.
“I grew up in an environment where football always was present. My father has always been a fan of this sport, my great-uncle was a Serie A referee: Francesco De Robbio. And the father of a friend of mine was a manager of the football team of my city: Savoia.
“I have worked as a ball boy at the stadium many times. And I’ve always played football in the streets and on the pitch as a kid. Now at the age of 24 I still play football with my friends. It has always been the game that made me feel good.”
He has many photographic influences, but finds his greatest inspiration in the city of Naples itself. He also says he is more attached to particular pictures he has taken: “because of the moment.”
“Or because of the people I was with when I took them,” he said.
“I can tell you with certainty that my greatest inspiration is Naples, with its streets, monuments, people and the cinema which is an active part of my visual growth path.
“Some photographers who particularly inspire me are Eleonora D’Angelo and Stefano Carloni for advertising. But as a photojournalist enthusiast I cannot fail to mention the great Martha Cooper and Letizia Battaglia. Then there are many other photographers I love like Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Mapplethorpe, Bruno Barbey, Ernst Haas, Gaetano De Angelis, Louis Bever, Willem Verbeeck.”
His cultural interests have led to a wide ranging appreciation of styles and trends.
“When travelling around the world I see people wearing their team or national team kit. It’s true belonging, a way of standing out that I always find pleasant to see. Then there are projects like Emile Samory’s “Bootleg Business: Fandom and Fashion in West Africa” , or pages like Analog Football or Welloffside.”
If you enjoyed that, you may also like Andrea Ardolino’s passionate photo project on Napoli fan culture.