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Pyro party for Hamburg fans following DFB approval

The German Football Association (DFB) has granted permission for pyrotechnics to be used at a league game for the first time, with Hamburg fans given the green light to let off smoke bombs ahead of the 2.Bundesliga clash against Karlsruhe on Saturday.

Ten Hamburg fans will be allowed to use one smoke bomb each in an open area between the north stand and the field before the start of the match. The fire brigade, armed with extinguishers and buckets of sand, will be located nearby.

The DFB has insisted that all future applications to use pyrotechnics would be handled on a case-by-case basis and there were no plans to extend such approvals to the stands themselves.

Hamburg was fined a total of €294,000 (£248,000/$324,000) last season for the use of unapproved pyrotechnics in the club’s Volksparkstadion home, but a key reason behind the DFB’s latest decision was the approval of the city’s authorities.

Hamburg’s head of fan liaison, Cornelius Goebel, explained that smoke bombs have been used by the club’s fans without permission since the 1960s and that “overzealous checks” by stewards in recent years had not led to fewer pyrotechnics entering Volksparkstadion.

“It’s a controversial topic,” acknowledged Goebel, who told the club’s website that it would be “naïve” to hope that fans will stop letting off their own smoke bombs following such approved displays.

“I think the best comparison is with music concerts, where controlled pyrotechnics have been let off without a hitch for years,” he added.

“The Volksparkstadion itself has seen pop concerts with the same number of spectators and large amounts of pyro, always under the watchful eye of the authorities and carried out by professionals, and it will be the same on Saturday. Why this can’t happen at football games isn’t quite clear.

“Our motivation is to minimise danger, continue the discussion and to raise awareness for controlled usage of pyrotechnics. We can’t be certain what this will look like in the future. It’s clear to us that there will be setbacks and opposition to what we’re doing, but we’re convinced this is the right way forward.

“It’s important for us to have a public discussion on the topic and try to talk about it in a way that leads to solutions. We are convinced that the vast majority of the active fan base wants to go in this direction with us.”

However, several sporting bodies, including football’s European governing body UEFA, remain extremely wary of pyrotechnics, given the high temperatures at which they can burn and several incidents of fans being injured as a result.

A new type of safer flare has been tested at Danish league matches over the past couple of months after being developed by top-tier club Brondby in partnership with fans over recent years.

Image: Sharkomat