Crystal Palace Football Club are backing a supporter education campaign on the dangers of pyrotechnics at football grounds, which has been launched by the Premier League, the Football League and the FA today.
The campaign follows extensive research among fans which found that 87% believe that pyrotechnics such as flares and smoke bombs are dangerous at matches, and 86% were concerned for their safety. The same number think flares and smoke bombs are a fire risk and 79% consider them to be a health hazard.
A nationwide poster campaign has been launched parodying football chants whilst revelaing facts connected to the hazards of these objects whilst reiterating the message that it is illegal to enter a football ground with pyrotechnics and that supporters risk jail and banning orders even for being in possession of one.
Flares are designed not to be extinguished easily or quickly and contain chemicals that burn at 1600°C, the melting point of steel. Smoke bombs also burn at high temperatures and are designed to be used in wide open spaces but are dangerous for those with asthma or breathing difficulties and can cause panic in a tightly packed crowd.
The use of pyrotechnics at football matches is a rising issue: in the 2010/11 season there were just eight incidents across the top five divisions and the domestic cup competitions. In 2011/12 this rose to 72 and last season it jumped to 172 incidents. Up to the end of October 2013 there have so far been 96 incidents this campaign.
The most high profile incident came in October when an assistant referee was hit by a smoke canister thrown from the stands during the game between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur, but fans have needed treatment at other top-flight matches during the past 12 months for shrapnel wounds, lung damage and burns from pyrotechnics.
Cathy Long, Head of Supporter Services at the Premier League, said: “We have launched this education campaign because we want fans to be fully aware of the dangers of pyrotechnics and realise the harm they can cause to other supporters.
“Pyrotechnics are not innocent fun, they can be very dangerous and there are victims. Fans, club staff and match officials have already been injured, some of them severely, and supporters who bring them are doing so illegally and can face jail and long bans. We don’t want that, we just want everyone to be safe and able to still come to the game.”