On Sunday 20th October, assistant referee David Bryan was hit by a flare thrown by a football fan from the Tottenham supporters’ end. The incident occurred during their match against Aston Villa at Villa Park. Flares are becoming an increasing worry for police. The head of football policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, Andy Holt, said that he was “anxious” to crack down on the problem of flares.
Two men aged 25 and 47 were arrested, however they have been released on bail pending further enquiries. Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said: “It is not great to see. It should be avoided completely. It touched the linesman and situations like this don’t have a place in football. I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen again.”
This is an increasing worry in football as this is not the first time that flares have been thrown onto the pitch and it will definitely not be the last time either. In Bolivia, a 14-year-old boy, Kevin Beltrán Espada died after being hit in the face by a flare at a game in February this year.
What is worrying for the players, linesmen and referees is that even though flares are banned from football games, they are still being smuggled into games unnoticed by the stewards. Flares are very dangerous and put people’s lives at risk. The government’s warning over them said they could burn as hot as 1,600 degrees Celsius for as long as an hour. To prevent this happening in the future, there should be a crackdown on what people are bringing into the stadiums. However this is deemed ineffective as searching everybody would take too long. The Premier League are believed to be planning a campaign to warn supporters of the dangers of setting off the devices and of the serious penalties.