Playing with flares

Virtus Corno flare

Flares, flares, flares. Across the world, supporters ripping flares have come into conflict with authorities. It’s becoming a bit predictable.

Over the weekend, Western Sydney Wanderers fans were in hot water over flares that were let off behind the goal during the Sydney derby. How will the FFA punish the club? A slap? Or is that just reserved for visiting players?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, local police have busted out their dictionary in aid of producing pompous pyro-punishing press releases.

“The State Police will give maximum attention to intemperate acts that occur at all sporting events, even those that occur in the amateur world,” said the press release from Udine Police Headquarters.

What does this overblown language mean? It means that Italian cops are going after fans who rip flares, even at amateur games.

Virtus-Corno-logoThree supporters of lower league Italian club Virtus Corno – along with one of the club’s registered players – have been indicted under a law against the launch of hazardous materials at sporting events. The fans face being banned from sporting stadiums.

During the final played against Chions at Lignano in early January, flares were set off before, during and after the game. Some flares were lobbed in the direction of the pitch but only made it as far as the running track. (Weak throwing arms. Pathetic. Not like the Croatians.) The local council is now calculating the cost of repairing the damage caused by the flares.

Police are looking to identify other supporters who were brandishing flares at the final.

In a modern day twist on FRANKIE SAYS RELAX, the Mayor of Corno said that the final was played in good spirit and that there was no violence between supporters.

The argument against flares is clear: flares can injure other people, flares can damage facilities, smoke from flares create visibility problems for other fans, and smoke from flares can be harmful to others (in particular asthma sufferers).

The argument for flares is that they add to the visual spectacular of a football match.

In the MLS, new club Orlando City promotes the use of smoke bombs for its recognised supporter groups but not for everyone. Oh well. When its supporters went on the road, other clubs and the local police weren’t so receptive of smoke bombs.

It’s all too difficult, isn’t it? Perhaps we should just have “designated flare matches”, held on floating platforms in the ocean where supporters can let off flares to the hearts’ content.

Full photo gallery from the final of the Coppa Italia Eccellenza is available on the Tremila Sport website.