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FFA to supply A-League active supporter groups with legal pyrotechnics

Football Federation Australia is assisting active supporter groups using pyrotechnics at A-League games and is set to permit "safe" smoke-emitting devices in stadiums next season.

In what is understood to be a world first, a national federation could help supply fans with smoke-emitting devices and encourage use of legal pyrotechnics with the FFA determined to rejuvenate active support in the A-League.

The FFA has not wavered from its firm stance against the lighting of flares inside venues, which is illegal in Australia due to the extreme heat released and potential to cause serious burns. However, in helping fan groups use devices that release volumes of coloured smoke for approximately 90 seconds with limited or no heat, the FFA believes it can find a legal and safe alternative to flares.

Head of the A-League, Greg O'Rourke, is working to allow "safe smoke" devices into stadiums for next season pending approval from authorities.

"Safe smoke is not the panacea but it will just be one part of the picture to enhance the match-day colour. It’s clear that we have to do some relationship building between the clubs, the fans and the FFA and we’re looking to engage on that with any of those fan groups that wish to do so." O'Rourke said.

The FFA held preliminary discussions with police about the use of the legal smoke-emitting devices and is set for further talks in the coming weeks. O'Rouke sought advice from the American Major League Soccer and in particular, Orlando City FC. The MLS club has successfully implemented a designated area in its stadium for the use of pyrotechnics by active supporters, allowing for more colour at games in a safer environment.


O'Rourke has already met with one A-League active supporter group over the potential use of "safe smoke" devices and flagged example products, one branded "wire-pull smoke grenade", but is yet to identify any supplier.

The FFA's confirmation of working to allow legal pyrotechnics at A-League games comes after the organisation handed a suspended three-point penalty to Western Sydney Wanderers after their fans ignited flares at the Sydney derby a fortnight ago.

The game cannot permit flares at games but O'Rourke is determined to help active supporters flourish after numbers have dwindled over the past two seasons. Supporter groups of the Wanderers, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory are significantly smaller in number than previous seasons and O'Rourke wants the match-day vibrancy to return to maintain football's unique culture compared to rival codes.

"We need to get that atmosphere back again. We have lost a bit of that and we have lost it for a lot of reasons," he said. "It’s very clear that one of the points of difference of our game over others is the atmosphere inside the stadia. It’s the singing, chanting, the rhythm of the game that’s the point of difference that our game can bring, and people come to the venue knowing that they’re going to experience not only the game but all the entertainment of the crowd."