I understand the concerns with flares and smoke bombs. In the same way that the Scottish Government is being urged to ban fireworks – in the hands of untrained people these items offer safety risks. They generate the bright flares from burning phosphorus. Thrown they can severely injure and even within the confined space, they could quickly set someone’s clothing on fire or worse. Moreover the smoke bombs cause specific issues for any supporter with breathing issues and I know that there are members of our disabled support who have ceased attending away games because of the smoke in a confined space and their inability to move out of the way. Equally I understand the spectacle that they provide and that they are becoming a default part of atmosphere generation at football grounds across Europe. You cannot un-invent technology and with internet sales making these items readily available in the UK, the goal for authorities must be how to make their use safe rather than fines and bans that patently are not working.
As the use of “pyro” has become more widespread across Europe, we have seen fines dished out after every round of European ties by UEFA. We get one virtually every home game however our displays are minimal compared to some of the firework shows we’ve seen in places like Poland, Turkey and Greece. The level of the fines for these displays (as opposed to political displays) remain at a low level from UEFA. Indeed, it has been at such a low level and so consistently levied to all clubs at the same low level that I have increasingly become suspicious that UEFA see ‘pyro’ as a quick money making exercise and that they are not that fussed about preventing and stopping flares and smoke bombs.
Which leads me to today. Just last week we were levied with our latest flares fine of circa £10k from UEFA and yet today they have used the same display in a tweet with the hashtag MondayMotivation. I appreciate that the picture they have chosen was taken prior to the flares being lit, but it seems a complete hypocrisy to me to fine any club over the use of flares yet use the same display for promotional reasons. I suppose that’s just UEFA!
Interestingly they took it down. Luckily I have a screen shot!