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While such devices are common at football matches overseas, crowds in UK stadiums are banned from using them. Officers are reviewing footage from matches to identify suspects.

Metropolitan police

“Flares and pyrotechnic devices inside stadiums are very dangerous and they can reach extremely high temperatures,” inspector Matt Ashmead from the Metropolitan police’s central football unit said.

“There is a very good reason that they are banned from football matches, as they can cause horrific injuries and can also be frightening for the many young fans that attend matches.

“Some fans might think that setting off a flare is a good way to support your team, but it is putting yourself and fellow fans at risk.”

Fans have been arrested following the use of flares / pyrotechnics. The use of these banned items can cause serious harm to your fellow fans, who may experience breathing difficulties as a direct result of their use.

Football pyrotechnic warning as 3,000°C flare reduces replica shirt to ashes in seconds.

With a third of all supporters complaining of being directly affected by pyrotechnics during matches and 86% expressing concern for their safety, Damian Green, the policing minister, has predicted that “someone could get killed”

It also causes your team to be sanctioned by The FA, which has serious financial implications and breaches FA Rule E20 ‘Failure to control spectators, management or players at a match’ – this includes before, during and after the fixture.

A government-endorsed campaign consequently aims to tackle the problem with pyrotechnic detection dogs, amnesty bins, an advertising campaign and improved camera surveillance and body searches.

Aware the possession or use of pyrotechnics at UK football grounds is illegal, with the worst instances punishable by prison sentence, the survey highlighted the growing trend of using children to “mule” the devices past stewards.

Football fans who smuggle flares and smoke bombs into matches are putting the safety of fellow supporters at serious risk, Policing Minister Damian Green said today.

The devices – often manufactured for legitimate military, maritime or transport purposes – can burn as hot as 1,600 degrees celsius for as long as an hour. But they are increasingly being illegally ignited among supporters – and even thrown onto pitches during football matches.

Any burns caused by a flare are likely to be extreme. Earlier this year, a 14-year-old boy was killed by a flare fired by Brazilian supporters during a match in Bolivia.

Policing Minister Damian Green said: “Football fans might see images of football grounds in other parts of Europe full of smoke and light caused by pyrotechnic devices and think that they create a good atmosphere – but they do not. Flares are very dangerous and can cause severe injuries.”

“We are very lucky in British football that no one has been seriously injured or killed by a flare for a long time but the fatal incident in Bolivia this year showed just what might happen.

I am sure the majority of fans who illegally smuggle pyrotechnic devices into matches do not fully understand the consequences – but they could end up leaving someone with life-changing injuries, as well as finding themselves with a criminal record and banned from football.”

Too hot to handle

It is very difficult to extinguish flares once lit because they often contain burning metals. Even after they stop burning, they will be too hot to handle for some time and could still set fire to flammable items like litter.

Smoke generators also become extremely hot and can cause serious burns to people attempting to move them.

It is advised that flares and smoke bombs are covered in sand for at least 30 minutes before being taken away.

Serious injury

National policing lead on football policing Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt said:

The increase in the use of pyrotechnics at football matches is a concern for the police service because they present a serious risk to supporters. If the trend continues, it could cause a serious injury or worse.

Sports Grounds Safety Authority chief executive Ruth Shaw said:

The Sports Grounds Safety Authority is concerned by the number of flares and smoke bombs being seen at football grounds.

Some fans may believe they contribute to the atmosphere, but they are potentially dangerous devices that present unnecessary risks to both spectators and to the stewards who have to deal with them.

This message will be added to ESL website, FT to ensure all are fully aware of the seriousness of this practice.

It is possible that the League / The FA / The Police Authorities may deign it necessary to play behind closed doors should this practice not be eradicated before a serious incident occurs.