3,500 illegal pyrotechnics ignited last season

There were only 28 violations at winter sports events. According to Sports Minister Strache, legal use in stadiums will continue to be possible.

Vienna – 3,575 pyrotechnic articles were illegally detonated during the 2017/18 season around sports events. This is an increase of 93 percent since 2011/12, said Interior Minister Herbert Kickl (FPÖ) at a meeting with representatives of politics, the Bundesliga, ÖFB and UEFA in Vienna. He identified an “acute need for action”, but exceptions for pyrotechnics should continue to exist.

Football matches were affected in 99 percent of cases of illegal pyrotechnic use. 21 pyrotechnics were used illegally at ice hockey matches and seven at other winter sports events. Bundesliga board member Christian Ebenbauer noted that the Interior Ministry’s figures would also include the illegal use of pyrotechnics outside stadiums. In the arenas, the use of illegal pyrotechnics has massively decreased since the introduction of protected legal areas for the burning of torches. Ebenbauer does not believe that it is currently possible to keep pyrotechnics completely away from football. “We won’t make it, UEFA won’t make it,” said the Bundesliga executive.

The Pyrotechnics Act has been in force in its current form since 2010. Fireworks, Bengali torches or firecrackers may therefore “not be possessed or used in a factual, local or temporal connection with a sporting event”. The organisers may, however, apply for exceptions and permit the burning of certain pyrotechnic classes in certain areas of the stadium with special safety precautions.

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“Illegeal Pyrotechnics a No-Go”

“There is a ban in Austria, but there are also exceptions. I think this is fundamentally correct,” said Sports Minister Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ), who spoke of approved “show performances” when it came to pyrotechnics. Considerations from the spring to abolish the possibility of exception permits have meanwhile been rejected by the Ministry of the Interior, as Secretary General Peter Goldgruber confirmed. Strache and he offered to stand ready for a dialogue with fan representatives.

“However, there is agreement that illegal pyrotechnics are a no-go,” Goldgruber summed up. Current figures on people injured by pyrotechnic articles were not available to the Ministry of the Interior on Thursday. After a parliamentary inquiry by Kickl at the beginning of August, a case was documented in the 2017/18 season in which a girl was injured when fans approached the friendly match between Austria and Brazil. No injuries were reported during the use of approved pyrotechnic articles in the course of exemptions.

Christoph Peschek, Managing Director of Rapid Vienna, agreed to this in a conversation with the APA on the fringes of the event. Since their introduction in spring 2017, there have been no injuries caused by pyrotechnics in the approved areas of the Allianz Stadium. Austria Vienna board member Markus Kraetschmer, who was also among the audience, also called the regulation “reasonable”. The British chemist Tom Smith, who wrote a study on pyrotechnics, however, said: “At sports events, no safe use of pyrotechnics is possible”.

“Football is a reflection of society”

Pyrotechnics cannot be equated with violence, Ebenbauer said. Previously, Marc Timmer, UEFA Head of Stadiums and Security, had spoken of “criminal gangs” that “destroy European cities” and video images of riots in his lecture on football fans. Ebenbauer rejected demands by Sports Minister Strache that the organisers should be held more accountable if violations of the Pyrotechnics Act occur despite exceptions. “Football is a reflection of society; we cannot say that football clubs are solely responsible”.

It recently became known that Rapid legend Steffen Hofmann had received a 500 euro administrative fine for violating the Pyrotechnics Act after his farewell match in the Allianz Stadium in July. The club captain of many years had swung a Bengali torch on a lap of honour in front of the fan curve. In response to a question from the APA, Interior Ministry Secretary General Goldgruber said that illegal behaviour was at stake even if there was no threat to others. “I consider this to be a particularly bad example,” he stressed with regard to the former football professional. Wild Jackpots Casino is an interesting online casino that looks and feels really great.