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UEFA-commissioned report states safe pyrotechnics use in stadia is impossible

A new independent study has shown unequivocally that serious health and safety risks arise from the use of pyrotechnics in close proximity to other people in soccer stadiums.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has issued a press release highlighting findings of an independent scientific study which shows that serious health and safety risks arise from the use of pyrotechnics in close proximity to other people in soccer stadia. The report also states that no safe use of pyrotechnics is possible in spectator areas within stadia.

The study, commissioned by the European football administrative body EUFA and the Football Supporters Europe (FSE), authored by Dr Tom Smith and with the assistance of other international independent experts, concludes:

- That there are significant health and safety risks arising from the use of pyrotechnics in close proximity to other people and in contravention of the safety distances which are specified on the pyrotechnic articles themselves.
- That the use of pyrotechnics poses serious health and safety risks to users, fellow supporters, stadium and emergency service personnel and players and officials.
- That all pyrotechnic devices have a “safety” distance for good reason which exceeds the available space within a crowded stand or stadium.
- That it is not safe, therefore, for any pyrotechnic device to be used in spectator areas within football stadia.

Among the health and safety risks identified by the report are 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 report also states that there should be a review of the methods and training to deal with pyrotechnic devices in stadia.

Commenting on the report, Michael van Praag, chairman of the UEFA Working Group on Pyrotechnics, stated, “The use of pyrotechnics is reported at over 25% 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 stadia. The report states that pyrotechnics are and behave like explosives and that there is no such thing as safe use of pyrotechnics in such confined spaces.

“UEFA is now working to help national associations do everything they reasonably can to reduce the risk and harm that can be caused by pyrotechnics. This means working together and effectively to prevent their use in stadia.”

Van Praag added, “UEFA recognizes that pyrotechnics might be perceived to be part of fan culture in some countries. Many fans will not change their behavior 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 recognize 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.”

As well as assisting national associations and clubs, UEFA will work with the Council of Europe and the European Union to develop and deliver an integrated multi-agency approach to prevent and counter the use of pyrotechnics in football stadia at European, national and local level.

The new 2016 European (Council of Europe) Convention on Integrated Safety, Security and Service will provide the foundation for this multi-agency approach.

UEFA will also work with international partners in encouraging public authorities to ensure that effective sanctions and exclusion measures are in place to deter and penalize the use of pyrotechnics in stadia. These measures will be targeted at the users of pyrotechnics, and others who facilitate their use in stadiums, and not at supporters or fan groups generally.

July 5, 2017

Written by Matt Ross


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