May 15, 2009 (Use j/k keys to navigate)   Email to a friend    Permalink

A flare for soccer: open flames in soccer stadiums worldwide

Lit flares and other open flames in soccer stadiums around the world have resulted in play stoppages, injury to players and fans, and in at least one case, the death of a spectator. They're also a beautiful addition to the beautiful game, and a dramatic, but dangerous, way to celebrate successes or vent frustrations . As I browse sports photos for this blog, I'm encountering what seems like an increasing number of images of fires lit at stadiums worldwide. The flames of passion burn bright for soccer fans. ( 25 photos total)

Supporters of Caracas FC celebrate with fire the victory of their team against Deportivo Cuenca of Ecuador in their 2009 Libertadores Cup match at Olimpico Stadium in Caracas May 12. (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

FC Barcelona supporters celebrate their team's victory against Real Madrid in "The Ramblas" in Barcelona May 2. (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images) #

Bosnia Herzevogina's Boris Pandza (left) walks with Belgium's Eden Hazard as Bosnia Herzevogina's supporters light flares during their World Cup 2010 qualifying match in Genk March 28. (JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images) #

A boy stands in front of riot policemen obscured by smoke bombs during the Greek cup final game between Olympiakos and AEK at the Athens Olympic stadium May 2. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images) #

Werder Bremen's Diego (left) vies with Hamburg's Piotr Trochowski as smoke invades the pitch during the UEFA Cup semi-final match between Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV at the Weser-Stadion in Bremen April 30. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images) #

Red Star fans leave the stadium past burning seats after the Serbian league match between Partizan and Red Star in Belgrade April 8. Red Star fans burned seats in the stadium after their team was beaten 2-0 by cross city rivals Partizan. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) #

Firefighters put out fires after the Serbian league match between Partizan and Red Star in Belgrade April 8. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) #

Bulgaria's fans light flares during their 2010 World Cup qualifying match against Cyprus at Vassil Levski stadium in Sofia April 1. (REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov) #

Ismael Bangoura of Dynamo Kiev FC reacts after scoring against PSG FC during a UEFA Cup quarter-finals match in Kiev April 16. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images) #

FC Dallas fans celebrate after Kenny Cooper scored on a penalty kick against Toronto FC in the second half of an MLS game in Frisco, Texas April 19. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) #

Chinese Shandong Luneng FC's Cichero Alejandro Enrique, third from left, celebrates his goal during an AFC Champions League match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul April 21. (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man) #

FC Barcelona supporters celebrate their team's victory over Real Madrid in Barcelona May 2. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) #

Fans of Ecuador's Deportivo Cuenca cheer for their team prior to a Copa Libertadores match with Argentina's Boca Juniors in Cuenca, Ecuador April 23. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara) #

Lyon's players Karim Benzema (left), Juninho (center), and Mathieu Bodmer react during their French League One match against Paris Saint Germain at Gerland stadium in Lyon April 24. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #

Corinthians' fans celebrate after their team won the Sao Paulo state championship final match with Santos in Sao Paulo May 3. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) #

Supporters and players of Dutch team AZ celebrate the team's championship victory in Alkmaar April 26. AZ won the title 28 years ago. (LEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images) #

Supporters of Dutch team AZ Alkmaar celebrate their championship at Waag Square in Alkmaar April 19 in the Netherlands. (Robin van Lonkhuij/AFP/Getty Images) #

Smoke rises from the stands during the UEFA Cup semi-final match between Werder Bremen vs Hamburger SV at the Weser-Stadion in Bremen April 30. (NIGEL TREBLIN/AFP/Getty Images) #

Fans of FC Dynamo Kiev react after the team scored against FC Shakhtar during a semi-final UEFA Cup match in Donetsk May 7. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images) #

Fans of Argentina's Estudiantes de La Plata cheer prior to a Copa Libertadores match between Estudiantes and Paraguay's Libertad in La Plata, Argentina May 7. (AP Photo/Eduardo Di Baia) #

Karlsruhe's fans protest with fireworks after Karlsruhe lost a German Bundesliga match against Hannover 96 in Karlruhe, Germany May 12. (AP Photo/Winfried Rothermel) #

Supporters of Caracas FC celebrate victory over Deportivo Cuenca of Ecuador in their 2009 Libertadores Cup match at Olimpico Stadium in Caracas May 12. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images) #

Supporters of Caracas FC celebrate with fire the victory of their team against Deportivo Cuenca of Ecuador in their 2009 Libertadores Cup match at Olimpico Stadium in Caracas May 12. (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images) #

FC Barcelona's supporters celebrate in Catalunya Square in Barcelona May 13 after their team won the Copa del Rey final in Valencia against Athletic Bilbao. (AP Photo/ David Ramos) #

Fans of Ecuador's Deportivo Cuenca cheer for their team prior to game with Argentina's Boca Juniors during a Copa Libertadores match in Cuenca, Ecuador April 23. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara) #



All I can think of is The Station nightclub disaster in Warwick, caused by people thinking fire in a crowded place was okay. Lots of people are going to die, thinking that they're having fun. I can't believe they allow that stuff into a stadium. I hope the Kraft family sees these pictures.

Posted by Pete May 16, 09 06:52 AM

American sports fans just don't get it

Posted by Joe May 16, 09 04:52 PM

party pooper

Posted by jp May 16, 09 07:29 PM

Joe, you're correct, I am an American sports and don't get it. Since you are obviously quite knowledgable about the reason impoverished punks set fires I would love to hear your rationale. To me it looks ridicuous and unnecsssary. I'd be curious to hear your intelligent defense for these moronic acts.

Posted by Anti Soccer Stadium Fire May 16, 09 10:11 PM

Totally scary.

Posted by RAD May 17, 09 01:41 PM

Makes Fenway look tame!

Posted by Mark Bellhorn May 18, 09 07:30 AM

Picture 23:

Now we know where Brady has been this offseason.

Posted by BillBraskey May 18, 09 10:28 AM

Someone call the Wahhhmbulance.

Posted by Juggernaut May 18, 09 10:47 AM

Soccer is so boring that now their fans are resortingto lighting fires in the stands? What's a matter? The good old fashioned riot with multiple deaths and hospital victims wasn't enough? Good grief.

Posted by votethemout May 18, 09 12:22 PM

There is no defense, but you still won't get it. That's just the way it is. It's the world's game and you aren't part of it.

Posted by Pedro May 18, 09 06:14 PM

Read Bill Buford's "Among the Thugs"
It really goes into the lives of these fans.

Joe is right, we don't get it. But that's probably good that we don't.

Posted by GC May 18, 09 07:57 PM

Americans don't get it (and yes I'm American). It's a cultural thing. Plus the rest of the world isn't used to being treated like babies by their Government with countless laws to protect them so they don't get hurt. In the US, one poor kid dies jumping off a diving board and we pass a law remove ALL diving boards. I guess we forgot about 20 million kids who didn't get hurt (this actually happened where I live in New York State). So let's see, the article said one person has died because of fire in a stadium. Millions of people attend soccer matches every year. Do the math. I'll take those odds over getting into my car any day!

Posted by DM May 18, 09 11:23 PM

i think that this s*** is so f****** stupid because somebody could of got burned or died. so people need to act thier age and stop acting like that a a soccer game.

Posted by Felicia Sanders May 19, 09 09:46 AM

Name three things the rest of the world loves and american can do without?

The Metric System

Posted by PlayBaseball May 19, 09 12:05 PM

Im American, & people (well the few who arent too familiar with the sport) dont attend actual games, & see the instances, & passion around the stadium when these are lit. People think its out of nowhere (random instances) but, they are lit; after an important goal, in the final,in a derby against a rival you are amazed at how it illuminates the fans,the flags,the banners,the scarves & the Jumping & passionate singing of the crowd. When youre in that type of atmosphere adrenaline just shoots through everyone & it drives all the fans in the stands to love the game as they do. Ive watched and attended games throughout the world and ill tell you that 99% of the times, NO ONE gets hurt in any way shape or form. take the time to get familiar with the sport once you judge it.

Posted by Matt May 19, 09 08:44 PM

I'm a soccer fan n hates 0-0 game. But if they gonna lit it up, every game should just be 0-0. The REVS love that. Those millionare can run around the pitch for hour an half and not score a goal. Everyone are save, hugs, kisses, slap butts, exhange jerseys, hoo.. hoo.. If anything need lighting up should my imperial blaze, lol.

Posted by Sean Paul May 20, 09 12:30 PM

Yup, exactly above. Soccer is SO BORING that it needs fire to be entertaining. We in America certainly do get it. If we want fire, we go see a rock concert. If we want to see a passionate sport, we go to a REAL football game. We get it. You're all just jealous of American superiority. Go run around in a circle for 3 hours and end up with a score of 1 to 0. Gee that's fun. Light em up boys and girls!!!

Posted by Dave May 20, 09 12:37 PM

Do you think they would allow me to bring flares or fireworks in Fenway Park?

Posted by Dave May 20, 09 01:05 PM

Type your comment here...
funny how many americans think soccer is boring...there are no commercials time outs and minimal stoppages in the play. they don't uderstand how awesome the game is...just try playing it, or maybe seeing a live game in europe...most foreigners here see baseball and have no idea how americans can stand watching 8 men stand around while 1 throws a ball once every 2 minutes while another catches it and a third sometimes hits it.. they don't understand the unique rules, just like many americans don't understand the complexity of passing and teamwork in soccer.
flares are a cool way of creating a great atmosphere.

Posted by johny2 May 20, 09 04:02 PM

Reading some of the anti-soccer comments above by americans I have always wondered: Why do so manyamericans have such gut-level disdain or hate towards soccer? What is it about soccer (a universally loved and respected sport by almost every culture on the planet) that causes it to be hated in the american culture?

I don't mean that people just don't like soccer in America, they actively bash it. They mock it, make condescending remarks about its global fanbase that dwarfs any others sport and simply won't accept that it excites more people than any other sports ever has or ever will.

Posted by James May 20, 09 07:08 PM

When people dis soccer because of low scoring, I have to wonder if they just don't really enjoy sports that much. If you love a sport, you love lots more about it than the scoring. Take college football. I love a good 4th-and-goal stand by a defensive line just as much--if not more--than a handoff and two-yard run for a TD. If you go to a baseball game and all you want to see are home runs and triple-plays, it's gonna be a long nine innings for you. But if you can appreciate a well-timed sacrifice bunt, or a running stealing 3rd base--that's a different story.

Posted by Kirk May 20, 09 10:56 PM

Actually in most stadiums it is not allowed to bring fireworks, there are fines for the clubs whos fans are using fireworks (differ per country, but at least in international matches).

And please stop the too obvious "our sports are better", it's getting old. If you are not into a sport you won't get it. But have some respect for each other('s sports).

@ DAve: really... superiority?? are you that naïve?

Posted by Paul May 21, 09 05:27 AM

Interesting photos, but they seem to show only one aspect of flares in stadia... there's also quite a bit of choreography and presentation involved, and is quite amazing, and not just randomly violent. Real reportage should show multiple sides of a topic.
As for the other general discussion about football (soccer), simply put, if fans of sports can only get excited about a goal scored (the end result of many other plays), then football (soccer) is not for you... it takes an appreciation of many other aspects of the beautiful game to truly love it. Is a strikeout by Papelbon less exciting than a double by Youkilis just because it doesn't score a run?

Posted by jpzinho May 21, 09 07:48 AM

I can not begin to describe how boring Football and baseball matches. I have gone to both before and am lucky to be alive. The boredom was almost the end of me... Sure they are fun sports to play...but just ridiculous to watch. Soccer or football in 95% of the world will almost kill you in another way. The excitement is so intense and crazy its like a drug. The best drug in the world in my opinion.

Posted by Miko May 21, 09 11:02 AM

We don't need teenage girls to get half naked to get the crowd going, unlike American Football or basketball...

Not everyone in this world has an attention span of less than 5 seconds that would render them unable to appreciate anything that lasts longer.

Posted by Guest May 21, 09 12:34 PM

I love soccer. And baseball. And American football. I think hockey and basketball are fun to watch, and I've learned to appreciate all of these sports throughout my life. I have no need to bash any of them. They are all beautiful in different ways. If a sport is popular, it's because it's exciting to a lot of people (not a debatable point). I am so fortunate in this regard, unlike 90% of you, going back and forth about one sport versus another being stupid or better or whatever. You might as well be talking about religions.

Posted by Dave May 21, 09 05:57 PM

LOL at the choice of context for the fire the Globe chose...And people wonder where the people that bash soccer get their narrowminded view of the game from.

It truly IS the beautiful game and I'd challenge anyone who actively bashes it to (gasp) go to a game first. Just experience the soccer atmosphere in stadiums around the world - there's nothing in this country like it.

Posted by mike May 21, 09 07:33 PM

Speaking as someone who has lived in America, Brazil, and France, I have a great appreciation for all sports including futebol (soccer). My Brazilian, and French friends always rave about how crazy soccer matches get, and that American Football doesnt compare. I have seen Vasco Da Gamma v. Flamengo in Brazil, I have seen a Arsenal v. Chelsea game in the UK, I have seen countless NBA, MLB, and MLB games, and they are all as mild as a primary compared to and SEC College Football game. I am a west coast guy so I have no bias. I went to a Florida v. LSU game in "The Swamp" and I was a little concerned for my wife and my safety. Soccer in the UK, and Brazil was very very entertaining but very safe as well.

Posted by Kal May 21, 09 10:11 PM

Any who says soccer is boring and watches baseball is a hypocrite. Baseball is the most boring this I have ever experienced in my life. Nothing happens 99% of the times. The pitcher just stands there scratching his b**** and throw the ball once every 2 minutes.

Posted by Ben May 22, 09 12:02 AM

Maybe it's because of the lack of skill that American sports take? Obviously, random acts of violence is totally cool in America. When it comes to actually needing skill for a spot, Americans usually shy away from it or completely trash it. When you are going as low as trashing a sport, it's obviously because you cannot comprehend the amount of talent that they are putting out each and every game. As for the fires, I think that there isn't anything to complain about, as long as people can keep it under control. I can understand if someone is being stupid with it, but a celebrating flare is not something to look down upon. Americans use silly horns, we use fire.

Posted by Andreas May 22, 09 11:38 AM

Hey, check out the statistics on gun violence in the US versus the rest of the world and then tell me about how f-ing civilized we are here in the States.

Posted by Tony May 26, 09 02:18 AM

These people don't care who wins they are going to destroy the stadium and hurt innocent people. Careless and rabid. They don't know how to celebrate or lose without going crazy. Fans support the team, they don't destroy the sacred place that their team calls home. I would never bring my children to a soccer game.

Posted by sugie3 May 26, 09 08:45 AM

"Plus the rest of the world isn't used to being treated like babies by their Government with countless laws to protect them so they don't get hurt"

I don't know DM. Some of these photos have what appear to be play pen fencing.
Also, your car statement shows your inability to see reason. People need to use cars to get to work or get food. No one needs to set stadium seating on fire. That is not "cultural" it is a stupid thing. Especially if you plan on having another soccer game at that particular stadium.
The thing that makes soccer really frustrating to watch is the diving. These guys go down and scream like they were shot. You are starting to see it with the European players in the NHL. Nothing sucks the life out of a sporting event like relying on the officiating for a win.

Posted by thearchisuck May 27, 09 11:37 AM

All of the baseball vs. soccer comments are great. Both are boring though.
10 guys doing three different things on a playing field or twice as many guys all doing the same thing.
The reason soccer is the most played/followed sport of the planet is not because it is the "best". It is because it is the most primitively equipped sport on the planet. And has been for thousands of years.
Something to kick and four trees.
Don't get me wrong. I like soccer and have played it throughout my life, but lighting the stadium on fire is basically an attempt to make up for a lackluster sporting event.

Posted by thearchisuck May 27, 09 11:55 AM

In all sports with high scores, once past a certain difference and a certain point in time, there is no come-back possible. In soccer, precisely because you may have played your opponents off the park but without the necessary scoreline that will put you out of danger (because you hit the post or because your goal was disallowed or because your opponents have been plain lucky while you have been plain unlucky), all it takes is one second in stoppage time out of one act of genius or one mistake to reverse the situation. This potential for drama and complete, sometimes unfair, reversals of fortune, is unique in soccer. Genius, luck and perseverance compete with each other to determine the result.

Posted by Timoleon May 28, 09 08:32 AM

AMAZING!! I can almost guarantee that more than half of the people who bash the sport of soccer on this post have never been to a match in their lives, have no knowledge of the game, and have probably passed on every opportunity to learn about it!! The reason behind this blind hatred is simple, most people in America have to be spoon fed by corporate America's media machine, in order to appreciate something. In other words, most people are told what they should like by the media. If its not all over tv, billboards, magazines, bus and subway ads, newspapers etc... then its not worth our time. Sad but true!! Soccer is a sport that has stayed true to its natural form from the beggining. NO TIMEOUTS = NO $ TO KEEP FEEDING THE CORPORATE MACHINE!! A great example of this is the sport of hockey...The NHL is one of the sports with little stoppage for commercials, making it less marketable, so the real fans suffer!!

Posted by William May 28, 09 11:41 AM

Comment No. 12 DM: I, for one, am exhausted by the nonsense that justifies
anti-social and uncivil behavior as 'a cultural thing.' We heard this about Michael Vick and dogfighting. Well, guess what: the culture of the United States is that we do not conduct ourselves in a manner that is inherently dangerous, or is likely to imperil our neighbors and interfere with their enjoyment of life, whether it is sitting at a soccer game or enjoying a quiet afternoon in a back yard. This is not the Nanny State outlawing diving boards because one unfortunate youngster was killed. This is common decency, and common sense. If that is inherent to this "culture" and not to others, then so be it.

Posted by nspo May 28, 09 01:50 PM

nice pictures!!!
For all who don´t understand how it is to hold a bengalo in your hand after a goal in a derby...come to europe and enjoy the live of Ultras!!!
One important game in a soldout stadium with 50 or 5000 (it doesn´t matter if in the fifth leage, Bundesliga or in the championsleage) of your friends all dressed in the colors of your team, with all the banners on the fence, the flags, the drums and everthing, and you will love it.
The problem is that you guys in the states don´t have a awayculture like in europe.
The reasons? Totally easy, to many games to see everyone and the distances are to big.
If you want more pictures like above check out (fourthleage-germany) from there you will be linked to all the good footballpages in europe.

So, we are planing a trip to Boston in september to see all your favorite teams like the bruins, patriots, celtics, red soxs... to see your fanculture. If you can help me to get schedules, prices etc. don´t hesitade to contact me:-)

Greetings from germany

P.S. you want to do some smokeaction in your stadium? No problem! You don´t have to bye this stuff you can cook it in your kitchen. All you need is a butcher where you can bye your stuff and rest you have in your´s just sugar:-)
You need Infos???

Posted by SD-Uwe May 28, 09 05:56 PM

Seeing Americans isolated and alone in bashing the world's game is as predictable as it is tedious. Get over it AMerica. Soccer is and always will be universally considered better than baseball or any other american sport. It will always entertain ten times more people, be ten times more watched and generate more revenue than all American sports combined.

THere is nothing you can do to change that. You are in the minority, humanity loves soccer and respects it despite you hating it. You'll never change that.

Posted by Kenneth May 29, 09 11:40 AM

if you'll notice, Americans are primarily fans of sports with the highest television exposure, as per the comments about them feeding into the corporate media side of sports, just as most consumers will only drink pepsi and coke, and likely not a third party soda, its all about airtime and advertisement. soccer is not a big moneymaker for TV stations due to its fluidity, if soccer, cricket, and horse racing were the top exposed sports in the US, wed be sitting here reading americans bash basketball and football.
sports like football, that have an average actual game play time of 5 minutes, broken up into 3 second segments perfectly portioned for highlight shows are successful in our market soely because they are so well suited for those shows. they are the easiest to expose, and the easiest to sum up in a few short segments for those with small attention spans. soccer is not built that way, but the funny thing is, whenever a soccer play does make it into the highlights, be it a diving header from a service across 40 yards, a striker taking on 6 players and finishing between the keepers legs, or an upper 90 screamer from 40 yards out, they take 10 times as much talent as your run of the mill, diving baseball catch, big football hit or one handed touchdown catch at the sidelines, or slam dunk.
But that being said, isnt it evident that Americans are also only fans of sports they are world leaders at? for instance, although basketball is becoming more globalized, everyone will agree that the US is incredibly dominant in that category, that although baseball is popular in the carribean and asia, there too the US are the top talent producers hands down, and clearly in Americans' precious football, they are world leaders by default. Americans jump off bandwagons of sports teams gone bad, as they would with a whole sport in general if their country were even middle of the pack. the US is good at soccer, and likely is a team on the rise in the next 20 years, but for the time being, they are not world cup contenders, but i can bet anything that if they were to win the world cup, america would be soccer crazy!

the facts are clear though, that this sentiment against soccer in the US is going to change rapidly. more kids are enrolled in soccer in the US than in baseball, basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse and tennis combined. when these kids grow up, what will their kids play? soccer, what will they watch on tv? soccer, what games will they attend? soccer. and frankly, most soccer fans and players could care less about football, or basketball, so thats one huge segment of the market that will be taken away from those traditional sports. so logic has it that soccer will be more popular than all of those sports combined, here in 10-20 years.

and one more thing, good luck to the NFL in trying to globalize the sport, bringing it to europe! HAH.

Posted by Kris Favreaux May 29, 09 11:43 PM

take a look at the NFL Europe.
Frankfurt Galaxy and Düsseldorf Rhein Fire had more than 30000 visitores every game but they couldn´t sell it to the TV-stations...nobody is watching it because you have every 2 Minutes a commercialbreak. I´m really glad that I can watch the NFL-semifinals and the final on german TV without any commercialbreaks. Meanwile the NFL Europe doesn´t exist anymore...sad but true. I was fan from the first minute on when the leage had teams in europe AND in Canada (Montreal) and the States.

Cheers Uwe

Posted by SD-Uwe May 30, 09 01:38 PM

I wish I had a fans as any of the photos. they lack passion and heart, do not know what is football

Posted by edurojas21 July 7, 09 02:46 PM

I always laugh at how the majority of Americans don't get it.

Whats even better is, we don't want you to get it. You'll only ruin it and put an advert break in after a gol, or attach cans of coke to your hat.

It's ours, you don't get it and we love that you don't get it.

Posted by Liverpool. August 12, 10 12:28 PM

not all of us mericans dont get it. just the ones that dont follow soccer dont understand.

us soccer fans do. and we do it every international match and most clubs do it.

check out chicago fire's section 8 on you tube.

search "chicago fire flares"

Posted by jesse September 30, 10 04:31 PM
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