Yesterday, BBC Sports Scotland published a piece on the recent pyro summit, in which Dr Tom Smith, who authored FIFA’s notorious report on the issue, said that the key to tackling this issue is “education.”
Which shows how confident he is that our governing bodies are going to try and get a grip on this in any meaningful way.
The article is called “’Education is the answer’ to Scottish football’s growing pyrotechnics issue” and to be honest, it seems to me like a pretty daft thing to say.
What further education is required on this?
Pyro is unsafe and because it’s unsafe it’s illegal. Nobody realistically believes that those who are bringing this stuff into football grounds do not know this stuff.
They do know it. They just don’t care.
The clubs are being abandoned to deal with this themselves here in Scotland, in no small part because we have a football legislature which does not want to legislate on the issue. They would rather stay silent, cross their fingers and hope someone else handles this for them.
But the clubs cannot do this alone. If meaningful sanctions existed the clubs would have something to take back to the fans and tell them that there will be consequences.
But the SPFL and the SFA want no part in putting those sanctions in place.
The whole debate over this issue is bizarre to me, and in particular that which goes on in the media. I’ve listened to debates on this and even taken part in a couple of them in which the same themes come up over and over again; it looks great, it’s a fantastic spectacle and fans are going to continue doing it, so what’s needed here is some form of compromise.
The BBC Sports Scotland piece actually ends with that suggestion.
“Like it or loathe it, you can expect to continue seeing the sight of illicit smoke at your Scottish ground of choice for the foreseeable until compromises are made or solutions reached.”
And this is part of the problem.
Talk of “compromises” or finding some workable middle ground is, to me, grossly irresponsible and even quite dangerous. What more needs to be said here except that this stuff is dangerous and its illegal?
No compromise in the world will make fans handling fireworks or letting off smoke bombs in a crowded stand suddenly become safe and benign and so it will forever be against the law.
What compromises do people think we should make as regards dangerous, illegal activity? Are there other laws these people would like to see ignored or openly broken?
The police and the safety executive must read this kind of stuff in incredulity.
Pyro “looks great” and so let’s find a way to get around the risks, and the law. That’s the sort of public debate that in a sane world would be closed down in two seconds flat.
When someone is seriously injured or killed by this stuff, how many of these people will acknowledge their own responsibility for that?
When you have a national platform at your disposal and you are lending legitimacy to stuff that is both against the law and which has lethal potential you are practically inviting disaster.
The talking heads who keep banging on about “compromises” and finding a way forward are most likely not the ones who’ll be in the vicinity when that disaster hits.
These people, and others who support this, get some vicarious thrill from seeing it from afar, and from knowing that it’s controversial and its rule-breaking.
They don’t have to choke back the toxic fumes or worry that a firework is going to be launched into their section by some masked headcase.
So, here’s my suggestion if they really want to find that “compromise.”
Let’s propose that we create a “pyro section” like they have in Europe, just as a test case. And there’s an obvious place to put it where it won’t affect ordinary fans, who want no part of this.
Let’s stick it right under the press box, let’s stick it where these journalists can get a whiff of the smoke and feel the heat. Let them cough their lungs up for even one game, or to cringe back in the seats as the flares light up.
If they’re still up for it, if they still want to discuss compromises, then even those of us who are wholeheartedly opposed to this will hear them out.
Until then, they should cease this irresponsible claptrap.