If you look at the media discourse, pyrotechnics inside stadiums are a major threat. But if you look at how fans and authorities discuss the issue, legalization may be closer than ever, according to Sydsvenskan.
“When I lecture people about the fan culture, I’m very often met with an attitude, along which police should stop chasing murderers and rapists and focus on fans burning flares”, says Tony Ernst, president of SFSU, the Swedish supporter union.
During his interview for Sydsvenskan.se he blames the shift in media viewpoint. “Ten years ago tabloids had a competition for the best choreography after ever round of games”, he recalls, comparing it to current outrage/criticism after flares are lit in the stands.
Photo: Supras Malmo
Sydsvenksan confirms there has been a change. The newspaper tried to get any Malmoe FF player to comment on how they view pyrotechnics. None of them agreed, even anonymously, claiming they don’t want to put their club in a bad position. Meanwhile four years back most of the team’s players openly supported pyrotechnics in a survey.
If it’s so bad, why is it so good?
Should you believe only the media coverage, flares are a major safety issue. But out of the spotlight supporters and authorities get along better than one might suspect. Their continued dialogue has been ongoing for almost two years. Some see it as too long and not particularly fruitful, but the subject is a heated one, literally and in terms of public debate, so needs to be approached with caution.
Thankfully Swedish authorities don’t follow the viewpoints of people who don’t usually go to football games and also try to address concerns of those attending Allsvenskan and lower tiers. And majority of current viewers claimed in a survey they appreciate the atmosphere inside stadiums very much. Looking at pyroshows like this, it’s not hard to understand why:
This is why talks about legalization are still ongoing between fans (SFSU), the football association (SvFF), Swedish premier league (SEF), the police and fire authorities. Recently another stadium was subject to controlled lighting of flares, this time the Swedbank Stadion in Malmo. And next year clubs should no longer receive mandatory fines for every incident including pyrotechnics.
But can legalization, under certain conditions, get rid of all illegal pyro displays? Surely not. “I hope the model will work, but there will always be someone willing to test the limits. But with a dialogue and no financial burden on the clubs it will be much easier to address the issue”, says Aage Radmann, sports science senior lecturer at the Malmo University.