Tuesday Teabag: The great pyro debate

With the minority of idiots deciding to rip flares at games involving A-League clubs, the issue of pyro has again been thrust into the limelight.

Predictably, the culprits include Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory after Wanderers fans set off at least four flares during the first half of the team’s Asian Champions League match against Ulsan Hyundai, while Victory and Melbourne Heart fans have both somehow escaped criticism for their use of flares during the Melbourne Derby.

A Football Federation Australia-instigated investigation has been launched into the Wanderers’ misdemeanour with club officials cracking down on anti-social behaviour.

At the risk of stating that Western Sydney has an anti-social culture, Western Sydney most definitely has an anti-social culture and it appears the same people just don’t learn, despite the club being threatened with a loss of points for supporters lighting flares along with Melbourne Victory.

That’s right, folks, even the team being stripped of points isn’t enough to deter Wanderers and Victory “supporters” from the unnecessary and stupid act of lighting flares.

So, at the risk of flogging a dead horse that just keeps on being dumped on our doorstep, let’s yet again go over the issue of flares and pyro in the A-League and outline the same points that the seemingly-brainless dingleberries can’t seem to grasp.

Let’s have as look at the pros of flare use: they look pretty and create coloured smoke. Unless something as minimal as those two pros is being overlooked, that’s it. Of course, those two points are way more important than the greater safety of supporters. So long as wannabe ultras are having fun, right?

Admittedly, flares can be safe in the right environment, but the reality is that a small space packed with supporters is not a safe environment for a flare. Contrary to those who choose to believe otherwise, flares can easily cause serious burns (a burning stick can cause burns, who would have thought?) and the smoke is highly toxic. If there are morons around flares, those around them are immediately unsafe.

The old “flares are part of football culture” line is too dumb to respond to. Someone else may have the patience to bother with this nonsensical argument.

Furthermore, anyone that believes that flares should be allowed because you can buy them at boating stores should get their heads examined in a guillotine. You can also go down the street and buy a set of steak knives but that doesn’t give you permission to walk around stabbing people while taking an afternoon stroll; just like buying a Miley Cyrus album doesn’t give you permission to force others to listen to it. Flares weren’t designed for football games, steak knives weren’t designed for stabbing strangers and Miley Cyrus albums weren’t designed to be listened to.

It’s not as though flares are only banned in Australia; the use of flares, fireworks and smoke bombs are not permitted in most European competitions and stadiums, as most have laws against them. Although it isn’t illegal, governing bodies such as the Football Association and Union European Football Associations as well as clubs and stadiums are free to write their own rules regarding pyro and deal out punishments accordingly.

However, just like in Australia, European clubs have supporters that completely disregard the rules. Concerns aside, we are genuinely lucky to have the level of control over supporter groups that we do due to close monitoring by security.

Flares in England have all but been eliminated but in wider Europe, they are often a regular feature at games due to a lack of policing and control. Thankfully the A-League hasn’t seen the same level of violence and racism that generally accompanies pyro in that part of the world.

Just like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, the flare doesn’t rip far from the douche bag. It really isn’t rocket science: don’t use the flaming stick/firework/explosive in a crowded place because people can get hurt. At the end of the day, it’s something you would think is obvious but apparently the blatant disregard of safety is worth creating some smoke or a loud bang. Neat-o.

Somewhere down the line, the wannabe Euro ultras need to have it imbedded in their minds that flares are not an essential part of football, are not a part of football culture and the use of them is frowned upon by the majority of Australian football supporters, who are just as fed up with football being cast in a negative shadow due to their actions as I.

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