Thoughts On The Pyrotechnic Debate
Earlier tonight, Celtic defeated Arbroath thanks to a single goal from Welshman Adam Matthews. During what was, in truth, a fairly flat affair on the coast of the North Sea, the debate on the use of pyrotechnics, particularly smoke bombs, was reignited (no pun intended) as the devices made an appearance on the away terracing. Due to the stale nature of the match itself in large parts, several supporters took to Twitter in order to voice their views regarding the use of the “pyro”.
Many of you will know that the Celtic Disabled Supporters’ Association recently published a statement on the use of smoke bombs at matches, requesting that the devices be consigned to the history books due to the ill effects they can have on individuals with respiratory problems. This statement, for anyone who missed it, is available here.
So I suppose it’s left to me to sum up my feelings on the issue, having retweeted the opinions of several supporters during half time and the match itself (both the pro and anti-pyro lobbies).
Firstly, looking at the “positives”, I must admit that personally, I think smoke bombs (and pyrotechnics in general) can add a lot to the colour and atmosphere at a football match. They can be particularly impressive when used as part of a display, such as the example at Ibrox pictured below. On the few occasions I’ve been near one when it has been set off, the atmosphere has taken a noticeable step up in response to the event.
There is also a certain notoriety attached to them; they are illegal after all, and a lot of people do enjoy pushing the boundaries with regards to the law (rightly or wrongly), whether it is by trying to be served a pint at the age of seventeen, or, in this case, by setting off a smoke bomb at a football match. However, as season tickets can be withdrawn for such an offence, it is perhaps no surprise that these devices are never set off at home matches.
Secondly, a look at the negatives. Celtic Football Club is, of course, a Club open to all. Anyone who has attended a Celtic match will have seen disabled supporters in and around the stadium itself. In recent decades, accessibility has improved for many of these supporters, and this must be applauded.
Whilst at an under seventeen’s match at Ibrox last season, I came closer to the use of smoke bombs than ever before. Previously, I had never found myself particularly close to them, so this was a new experience for me. Whilst, as I have previously highlighted, they added greatly to the atmosphere, I must also highlight the fact that I noticed an immediate, negative effect with regards to taking a simple breath.
Rather naively, I presumed that pulling my scarf over my face would make a difference, but it had little or no effect. One of my friends, who is in his early twenties and fairly fit, found himself struggling to breath to such an extent that he actually left that area of the stand for about ten minutes until the smoke had cleared.
It is also worthy of note that not all of those who may be negatively affected by a smoke bomb are individuals who are visibly disabled (for example those in a wheelchair). Countless supporters suffer from conditions such as asthma, as well as more serious conditions, and, in my opinion, the well being of these fans must be taken into account by their fellow supporters.
All in all, whilst these devices do have their benefits (at least in my eyes), these benefits are vastly outweighed by the potential problems they can create for other individuals within the stadium, regardless of who they support. The illegality of pyrotechnics also brings with it the chance of punishments for the Football Club itself.
Even as a young man, I’m afraid I just can’t agree with the “no pyro, no party” mentality. They do add to the atmosphere, but nobody should ever be put off attending a Celtic match because of the potential for negative affects towards their health (nail biting finishes and Celtic’s occasional dodgy defending aside). For this reason, I feel it’s time we made a concious decision, as a support, that their time has been and gone.
Please feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section below.