Uefa-backed study raises concerns over pyrotechnics in stadiums

Uefa, football’s global governing body, has urged fans to stop using pyrotechnics in stadiums after a new independent study suggested they pose serious health and safety risks.

Commissioned by Uefa and Football Supporters Europe (FSE), the report found there are “significant” risks when using pyrotechnics such as flares and fireworks in close proximity to other people. The use of them also contravenes the safety distances specified on the pyrotechnic articles.

Health and safety risks outlined in the report include burns to flesh and clothing, burns to structures and other hazards, explosive effects on people and structures, acute toxic effects and effects of smoke, direct impact to head and eyes, impact on vision and hearing, and impact of panic.

The study also said that pyrotechnics endanger users, fellow supporters, stadium and emergency service personnel and players and officials and, as a result, are not safe for use in spectator areas within football stadia.

In addition, the report called for a review into the methods and training to deal with pyrotechnic devices in stadiums, with a clear message that pyrotechnics are only handled by trained and equipped staff.

In response, Uefa said it will work with the Council of Europe and the European Union to develop an “integrated multi-agency approach” to counter the use of such articles in stadia.

The regional governing body also plans to work with international partners to encourage public authorities to ensure that sanctions and exclusion measures are put in place to deter and penalise the use of pyrotechnics.

Michael van Praag, chairman of the Uefa Working Group on Pyrotechnics, said: “The use of pyrotechnics is reported at over 25 per cent of matches in Uefa competitions and this new report proves once and for all that there is no place for pyrotechnics in stands in football stadiums.

“Uefa recognises that pyrotechnics might be perceived to be part of fan culture in some countries; many fans will not change their behaviour overnight.

“But the message from this report is clear: pyrotechnic use is putting the health, safety and lives of fellow supporters at risk.

“People must recognise that measures designed to counter pyrotechnic use are intended to protect their health and safety and should not be seen as an attack on supporter culture.”