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Football chiefs call for tougher stance against flares at matches

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Australia’s football chiefs are pushing the Victorian and New South Wales governments to bring in tougher laws against flares.

The call comes after 29 flares were lit inside and outside Docklands Stadium in Melbourne last weekend, during the A-League match between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) wants a ban on selling flares to people aged under 18, and for the supply of flares to anyone underage to be a criminal offence.

The FFA is also pushing for identification to be required when buying flares, and for the products to be stored securely.

The ABC understands anecdotal evidence suggests adults are pushing teenagers to bring flares to games on their behalf, believing that courts are more lenient toward children.

“There’s no doubt that there are older people who are asking younger people to do their work for them,” said A-League head Damien de Bohun.

“So we’re really focused on making sure that flares do not end up in the hands of 15-year-olds in public spaces because they’re just far too dangerous.”

Flares burn at about 1,600 degrees Celsius.

They are illegal in Australia outside of maritime use, and currently A-League fans are banned for five years if caught possessing or using a flare.

The FFA said the proposed changes were similar to those required for aerosol cans.

Most fans ‘frustrated’ by ‘dangerous’ flares

FFA boss David Gallop has written to the New South Wales and Victorian governments asking for the law to be changed.

Mr de Bohun said flares were a particular problem in Melbourne and Sydney.

“That’s where most of the incidents have occurred,” he said.

“From our perspective we’re focused on making sure the fan experience is a great family experience for everyone.”

Mr de Bohun said he believed some fans were attracted to flares because of their prevalence at games in soccer-loving nations in South America and elsewhere.

“I think they see some of it happening in other parts of the world,” he said.

“At the end of the day they’re dangerous and they’re illegal unless they’re being used for maritime purposes so we don’t want to see them at or around our matches in the future.”

Commentator Andy Harper said most fans found the flares irritating.

“The moment one of these things goes off … there’s a collective sigh of frustration with football fans,” he said.

“The game doesn’t need it, the law says you can’t do it, and it just frustrates most people who are enjoying the football.”

About 40,000 people are expected at the derby between Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers this Saturday.

© 2015 | This article originally appeared on on 21 October 2015.

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