Face Pyro Facts

Warning to football fans after smoke bomb puts teenager in hospital

29 May 2013

Police are warning about the dangers of setting off pyrotechnics at football matches after a teenager was taken to hospital with lung damage from a smoke bomb at an Aston Villa match.

The 15-year-old lad had travelled to Wigan’s DW Stadium to watch Villa’s final game of the season on Sunday 19 May during which a number of flares and smoke bombs were set off among the away fans.

At one point a smoke bomb was even thrown onto the pitch − resulting in a short delay to the match.

The youngster affected was close to where one was set alight and immediately struggled to breathe and felt burning to his eyes. The following day he continued to feel ill at school and was taken to hospital.

Chest x-rays revealed he was suffering the effect of smoke inhalation and had suffered damage to his lungs. Doctors were also concerned that he could have been affected by toxins in the flares. He was released from hospital later the same day.

Two other Villa fans, women aged 22 and 24, also received treatment having breathed in smoke at the ground.

A pair of teenage boys, both aged 16 and from Birmingham, were arrested in the ground after being spotted by police in possession of smoke bombs. They are currently on police bail pending further investigation.

PC Stewart Bladen, from West Midlands Police, said: "The lad was stood in the middle of the stand when someone just behind him set of a smoke bomb − he described not being able to breath, feeling a burning in his chest and became very panicky.

"I was in another stand some 200 metres away and when the wind blew smoke towards us it was choking - so to have been stood directly beside it must have been suffocating."

The teenager’s mum added: "My son has followed the Villa away quite a few times this season, he isn’t afraid of the hustle and bustle and the jostling and the banter that goes with being in an excitable crowd of fellow supporters.

"However, this nasty experience has left him very dubious of being surrounded by large numbers of fans.

"The panic he felt when he couldn’t breathe; the fact he couldn’t see and his lungs and throat were burning will no doubt stay with him for a long time.

"As parents, we want him to continue to enjoy following football however, we want to know that he is safe and isn’t going to be in danger of this happening again.

"The fans who − in their minority − need to understand the lasting physical and mental effects that they are putting their fellow supporters through, just for a few minutes of mindless stupidity."

Independent expert Dr Steve Frosdick said: "Pyrotechnics are very dangerous inside a football stadium - especially amongst large crowds of people.

"Bengal flares, which are often used, burn at extremely high temperatures, risk serious injury and can easily cause fires.

"Smoke bombs give off toxic smoke and can, as in this case, cause respiratory problems and even an arrhythmia."

Earlier in the football season two Chelsea supporters were sent to prison for a month after being arrested for possessing smoke bombs at an away match against Swansea in the Capital One Cup.

The pair were banned from attending football games for six years, while a third supporter involved was also banned for the same length of time. Chelsea have also barred the trio from Stamford Bridge for ten years each.

PC Bladen continued: "Flares and fireworks at games are banned in the UK for a reason - they have the potential to cause harm and distress, and are a serious fire risk.

"We have seen them used on the continent for many years but this is a relatively new trend for English football.

"Anyone found trying to smuggle in any pyrotechnic devices can expect lengthy football banning orders keeping them out of all British grounds and from travelling to matches abroad."

Source: West Midlands Police

The pyro he is holding explodes in his hands. This is a picture of the fan shortly after. He lost three fingers in this incident (his thumb, index and middle finger) as well as suffering bruises to his face and body. It was reported that other fans had to recover parts of his hand and delivered them to doctors. This was the second time such an incident happened in the Stadio Olimpico: in November 2011 an FC Zurich fan also lost fingers when a firecracker exploded in his hands.

Chelsea fan Jamie Greenwood loses appeal over Swansea smoke grenade

13 Feb 2013

A Chelsea fan caught taking a smoke grenade into Swansea’s Liberty Stadium for his club’s Capital One Cup semi-final clash against the Swans today lost his appeal against a 28-day jail sentence.

At Swansea Crown Court, Jamie Greenwood, 26, of Cherwell House, London, also lost his appeal against a six year football banning order imposed for the offence.

Turning down the appeal, Judge Paul Thomas sitting with two magistrates told Greenwood: “You accept, as we feel you must, that what you did was utterly foolish but more importantly it was potentially very dangerous.

“It was not going to be let off in the middle of a field but in a confined situation that could have caused a great deal of panic.”

The judge added the authorities in charge of football matches had to keep public safety in the foremost of their minds because of “well publicised tragedies involving football stadiums”.

He said:“The sentence in this case was justified and appropriate.”

Jamie Greenwood and his cousin Harry Greenwood, 19, of Bernhardt Crescent, London, were both given a month’s jail and a six year ban from watching football by Swansea Magistrates last month for possessing Enola Gay make twist-top smoke grenades at the match.

It ended goalless but Swansea progressed to this month’s Capital One Cup Final having won the first leg at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.

Possession of the grenade was an offence under the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc) Act 1985.

Chelsea have revoked the pair’s season tickets.

Helen Randall, for Jamie Greenwood, argued the smoke grenade was at the “bottom end” of the list of devices supporters were banned from taking into stadiums.

Prosecutor Catrin Jenkins said the grenade was discovered by a match day steward who “patted down” Jamie Greenwood as he made his way into the ground.

He told a police officer who was called to the scene it was “a stupid thing to do”.

Police later found a second grenade in a Volkswagen van Greenwood had driven to the match.

He admitted buying three grenades at a shop in Camden, London, before travelling to Swansea.

He said he did not know what happened to the third grenade.

Miss Randall said: “He intended to let off the smoke in celebration if Chelsea scored a goal.

“He was not aggressive or violent to the steward or the police and in my submission he was polite and co-operative at all times.

“He’s attended football matches since a child and has not been involved in any incidents.

“This conviction has shaken him considerably and he deeply regrets his actions and regrets the potential consequences to those attending the match.

“He is extremely unlikely to offend again.

“It was not his intention to cause violence or disorder. He intended to let the smoke off while holding the device in his hand, not throwing it into another part of the ground.

“It was a manifestly excessive sentence in view of the nature of the offence and the nature of the device.

“A community order would have been more appropriate.”

But Judge Thomas told Greenwood: “I’m sure with the benefit of hindsight you are as appalled by what you did as are others.

“We see no reason to vary the sentence and the appeal fails.”

After the original sentence, South Wales Police Superintendent Phil Davies said: “The behaviour of these Chelsea fans was totally irresponsible and I am pleased that they were arrested and put before the courts following a proactive policing operation.

“The football banning orders made by the court will be enforced by police forces to ensure the vast majority of fans who are well behaved will be able to enjoy matches in a safe environment.”

Both Jamie and Harry Greenwood walked free from court today, their jail sentences having expired.

Source: Wales Online

When smoke bombs and flares are let out at football matches, they can cause games to be delayed and, sometimes, abandoned.

When FC Koln faced Bayern Munich on the last day of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season, the home side were facing relegation. Trailing 4-1 with one minute to go, the Koln supporters knew they were going down and, in their disappointment and frustration, let off a series of black smoke bombs.

The smoke was so dramatic and engulfing that the players and officials’ safety was at risk. The referee had to take action, and he called a halt to the game early as Koln’s season ended in chaos.

See photos at Süddeutsche Zeitung

In the middle of this picture is eight year-old James Maddocks. You can't see him because he is on the floor after being hit by the blue smoke bomb in the picture. With a burn on his neck he is taken for treatment to St John Ambulance. He didn’t see a single minute of football on his first trip to Anfield.

Four banners caught fire and five Hamburg supporters suffered burns. According to local newspaper MoPo eye-witness accounts claim there were the "beginnings of a mass panic". The paper also reported that “during the game, many ultras retreated to the stairways and debated their actions, many were crying". Post-match the apologetic Hamburg fans put out a statement claiming:"We are shocked about the extent of this severe incident. It has shown us that pyro does not work in THIS way."

See pictures from Hamburger Morgenpost

The flare thrown into the Partizan end lands on loose material and quickly catches fires. More material was then added by fans to create a large bonfire. The referee halted play for 10 minutes as the billowing smoke threatened to choke spectators and two fire trucks were deployed to extinguish the fire.

See video on The Guardian