Football and Flares: No Smoke Without Fire

By Ryan McCaig

Controversy has surrounded the game of Football in the recent weeks… and no, Jack Wilshere hasn’t been caught smoking again, nor has Luis Suarez been up to his old tricks again. The issue is in fact one caused by the fans, both the Premier League and the FA are stepping up their fight against missiles, as such, from the crowd, as it’s been revealed that 130 incidents have already happened this season.

The most recent outbreak of such incidents was when at the Aston Villa vs. Tottenham game on the 20th October, assistant referee David Bryan got hit by a smoke bomb, thrown from the direction of the Spurs supporters. The official refereeing the game, Phil Dowd, featured the incident in his match report. Two men have been arrested in association with the incident, although both have been released on bail.

This has also happened locally, as Brighton’s game with Watford on the 28th October, was overshadowed when hornet fans let off several smoke bombs. Watford released an official statement about the incident saying:

“Watford has a zero tolerance policy towards the carrying or use of any pyrotechnic device either at Vicarage Road or any other stadium hosting Watford matches”

Football clubs within England and the FA both have been effective in excluding Hooliganism away from the game, with its peak being in the 1980’s, the tragedy of Hillsborough had forced the game to put their fans first, in terms of safety.

Despite Violence within Football Stadia being minimized, the throwing of flares and smoke bomb continues , the White Hart Lane incident was far from an isolated event, with figures from the Football Policing Unit revealing flares and smoke signals have been used or seized at 131 matches across the four divisions this season. Already nearing last season’s figure of 199.

I feel that the priorities of many clubs are still wrong, If you’re found with a can of coke at Old Trafford you can get chucked out, but if a flare is thrown it is seen as incidental. This in fact points towards the ethic profile of the FA. If this form of Hooliganism isn’t eradicated, then foreseeably it could lead to serious injury and even death.

white hart lane

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