Dec 3, 2013, 9:35 AM EDT
A survey commissioned by the Premier League reveals that eight-year-olds have been used as “mules” to smuggle flares and smoke bombs into games on behalf of older relatives.
The survey of 1,635 supporters also claims that a third of British football fans have been affected by flares and smoke bombs at stadiums while 86 percent are concerned for their safety.
Pyrotechnic incidents have risen sharply in recent years. In 2010-11 eight events were recorded. One year later that number grew to 172. And within the first three months of this season, the Premier League has already recorded 96 such events.
“It’s the biggest concern we’ve got among fans at the moment,” Cathy Long, head of supporter services at the Premier League, told BBC Sport.
“There have been incidents across the world where people have had bad injuries or died. We’ve been lucky that our leagues haven’t had such major issues yet, but we want to stop that from happening.”
Damian Green, the policing minister, has echoed these sentiments, predicting that if they continue to go uncontrolled “someone could get killed.”
The use of pyrotechnics is common in European football (pictured) with many fans believing they add to the sense of atmosphere in a stadium. Consequently, fans in Britain, eager to see the excitement levels ramped up and aided by the increasing feasibility of purchasing pyrotechnic paraphernalia, will stop at nothing to sneak the goods into stadiums.
The prevalence of flares and smoke bombs has triggered phrase the phrase ‘no pyro, no party’ to become omnipresent in Britain.
“The European influence is very, very strong,” explained Football Supporters’ Federation caseworker Amanda Jacks. “I’ve no doubt people think pyro creates a better atmosphere and enhances supporting their team. Whether or not that’s true, it’s illegal.
“Rather than seeing ‘no pyro, no party’ I’d like to see ‘pyro could mean prison’ and that’s a very real possibility if fans are convicted of using pyrotechnics. They might end up seeing Christmas inside a cell.”
The clubs involved with the most pyrotechnic incidents (five) in 2013-14 were Manchester United, Everton and Wigan Athletic, according to a study by the UK Football Policing Unit.
The backlash to pyrotechnics is yet another talking point in the conversation surrounding atmosphere in Premier League stadiums. Many clubs and fans are looking for new ways to improve the celebratory nature inside stadiums, which includes designated standing sections and fan groups devoted to songs and chants.
- Netherlands and Roma on alert after Kevin Strootman carted off against Napoli 0
- Quick Six: Chelsea’s second halves, Fulham helps Cardiff, and the rest of the headlines from this weekend’s Premier League action 0
- What a photo: Lazio plays to near-empty Stadio Olimpico as fans protest club president 0
- Americans Abroad Review: Boyd and Johannsson shine again 1
- WATCH: Saturday’s top 5 goals in Major League Soccer 0
- MLS roundup: Houston, Vancouver sit on top of their conferences after day one 0
- Will Johnson: We Weren't all Quite at the Races
- Owners Legal Issues Have Caught Up to Queretaro
- Juventus Prove They Know how to Win Despite Weak Performance Against Fiore
- Liverpool is Ready to Spend $100 Million in Summer Transfers
- Dallas Manage 3-2 Win in Season Opener Against Impact
- Dynamo Shut Out the Revs as Bruin Scores a Pair
- Argentine Melodies Illuminate Rainy Night in Portland
- LA Galaxy Gift Real Salt Lake Three Points in Season Opener
- Berhalter Gets First Win as Columbus Downs D.C. United 3-0
- Colorado Rapids - 3 Hopes and One Fear