A NEW campaign is being launched to warn of the dangers of fans using flares and smoke bombs after it was revealed children as young as eight have been used as “mules” to smuggle pyrotechnic devices into football grounds.
The campaign by the Premier League, Football League and the FA comes after a growth in the number of incidents – including a 15-year-old boy suffered lung damage from a smoke bomb thrown at Wigan last season.
Concerns have intensified after CCTV at one Premier League ground caught a young boy handing out fireworks to adults from his rucksack.
Fans will be reminded that fireworks are illegal at matches, carrying the risk of possible jail sentences, and warned of the dangers.
Other recent incidents include a linesman being struck by a firework at Aston Villa in October, while in February a 14-year-old boy was killed by a flare thrown by fans during a South American Libertadores Cup match in Bolivia.
The Premier League said: “A disturbing element of increased pyrotechnics has been the involvement of children.
“It is not uncommon for ‘mules’ to bring the pyrotechnics into a ground on behalf of others, and in one incident at a Premier League match last season a child aged around eight was observed aiding those involved in pyrotechnic use.
“The child came into the ground with pyrotechnics in his rucksack and was then seen passing them to members of an adult group who let them off inside the ground.”
New research has found that one third of fans have been affected by pyrotechnics, 87 per cent believe they are dangerous and 78 per cent say they want more action taken against users.