Soccer fans in Germany will be allowed to legally use pyrotechnics at a league game for the first time.
The German soccer federation, known as the DFB, said Tuesday it has granted permission for 10 Hamburg fans to each let off one smoke bomb before a second-tier game against Karlsruhe on Feb. 8.
The fans must use the devices in an agreed open area between the stand and the field. The fans will also be supervised by a pyrotechnics specialist and the fire service will be nearby with fire extinguishers and buckets of sand.
There's no plan to relax the rules on using pyrotechnics in the stands and the DFB said any future applications would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. A key factor in Hamburg's application was approval from city authorities.
It is still DFB policy to fine clubs whose fans use fireworks or smoke bombs at games. Hamburg racked up more than 294,000 euros ($324,000) in fines for such offenses last season.
European governing body UEFA has long taken a strong stance against pyrotechnic use, backed up by fines for clubs.
“There can be no safe use of pyrotechnics in spectator areas in football stadiums," the chairman of UEFA's stadium and security committee, Michael van Praag, said in 2017.
Some fans argue that the light and smoke from pyrotechnics add atmosphere to games, but they can burn at extremely high temperatures. There have been cases of players being struck by flares thrown from the crowd and of fans being burned or even killed, especially when pyrotechnics are hurled during fights between rival supporters.
Danish club Brondby worked with fans over several years to develop a type of flare which could be used legally by fans. The devices, which are less bright than typical illegal flares, were first used at a Danish league game in December.