Pyrotechnics in football: excesses in the Bundesliga

Pyrotechnics in football: excesses in the Bundesliga

EIt wasn’t long before the Dortmund stadium announcers gave up the intention of presenting the usual instructions that are usually used to react to the burning of pyrotechnics. They should have warned of the dangers in an endless loop and pointed out the known prohibitions, because during the 6:1 of the BVB against Cologne, firecrackers burned almost continuously in the away block. Sometimes in choreographed form, sometimes it was just individual torches, in the end more than 100 Bengal fires are said to have been consumed.

A cameraman who got smoke particles in his eyes had to seek medical treatment. “Something like that doesn’t work at all,” said Christian Keller, the managing director of Cologne, who may have to reckon with a penalty in the six-digit range. Fortunately, contrary to initial reports of hospitalization “after outpatient medical treatment”, the cameraman was released in an ambulance at the stadium, the police said afterwards.

But the problem behind this process is becoming more and more apparent. It is an open secret that for years the Ultra groups have been burning off pyrotechnics in consultation with their clubs on selected occasions, usually holding these illegal rituals away from home and only for a few minutes at an appointed time. Since the end of the pandemic, a new dynamic has developed: there are real excesses, including in the corners of the home teams, and there are regular injuries.

“Completely exposed in the brain”

At the district derby at Schalke a week ago, a photographer was injured by a flare, here too torches were constantly burning in the guest block. And at the second division game between St. Pauli and Hansa Rostock, the guests ignited so violently that Rostock board member Robert Marien said: “The situation was dangerous. Not only red lines were crossed. Then it stopped completely in some people’s brains.”

But those responsible in the clubs are just as helpless as the police. North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister of the Interior, Herbert Reul, recently, after a raid on the ultra and hooligan scenes of Schalke, Dortmund and Rot-Weiss Essen announced that not only violence but also the flaring of pyrotechnics would be “consistently punished”. That sounded like a plan, but the searches and threats of punishment were seen as a provocation in the fan scene. “You create an enemy that you are no match for,” said a banner in the Schalke curve at the Revierderby.

The blocks are firmly in the hands of the organized fans, the police are pretty powerless here. Because a deployment in the crowded standing room areas would probably also endanger many bystanders. That’s not an option.

There is no “reasonable” solution, said the Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart on Saturday, the spiral of escalation, which is turning faster and faster, cannot be stopped with reprisals in his eyes. It is not expedient “that we always ban it, but we have to find a solution with the boys,” explained Baumgart, who also believes “that the fronts have hardened”.

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