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France, pyrotechnics is back (which has never gone away)

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France, pyrotechnics is back (which has never gone away)

With the decree 2023-216 of 28 March 2023 published in the Official Gazette, the French Ministry of Sport, in concert with the Ministry of the Interior, sanctioned the official return of pyrotechnics for all professional football fans. This is because in fact smoke bombs and torches have never completely disappeared from the stands and in addition to those who, at their own risk (in terms of legal repercussions, obviously…), decided to light some just to demonstrate the stupidity of the ban, there they were actually a series of fans such as Lorient (already since 2021), Toulouse, Angers, Le Havre, Clermont-Ferrand and others that have already gone through this phase of “experimentation”. This is just one, in quotation marks, formalization or, if you like, widening of the practice on a large scale.

It is also due to the work that we can define as the lobbing of theANS, theNational Association of Supporterspractically the French equivalent of what he was and what he did Ultra movement in Italy and which, assisted by the INS, theNational Support Authoritywhich is instead a government organization that deals with the same subject, but evidently not with blinkers like its Italian counterparts, has obtained this small great victory.

We are more or less faced with the philosophical doubt between the glass half full or half empty, the fact is that a step towards the decriminalization of pyrotechnics has been taken, an opening to fans and their needs or their ritual practices has been made . Of course there are a whole series of constraints and regulations that would make the hardest and purest Italian ultras turn up their mouths and which, in some ways, closely resemble the barely sketched (and always strongly opposed) path in Italy of the authorizations of banners .

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In this specific case and in this sense, the leap forward in terms of requests and obligations on the part of the State becomes even more restrictive and overbearing: it is necessary to request to the local prefect at least one month in advance of the batch, designating a manager within the group in possession of a particular certificate of qualification (which determines knowledge of pyrotechnic devices, their use, dangers, disposal, etc.) and who supervises a group of people who – always after having declared their personal details in the request – will then be authorized to carry out the pyrotechnic choreography. It is also required, in addition to a list of pyrotechnic devices to use, too a map of the area where the show will be strictly realised, aliability insurance to cover any damages, thecommitment to use properly and properly dispose of everything, including any defective and unused items.

Put like this, it would seem to be a purely theoretical and in fact unacceptable opening. In practice, the feedback from those squares where a very first similar experimentation was already started in the recent future, speak of a hypertrophic bureaucratization which is in any case more presumed than real and which, in fact, is easily carried out and overcome .

If we look at the matter from an ultras orthodox point of view, there remains an institutionalization of organized support and a compression of its rites within such stringent rules, which would end up debasing their spontaneous nature. Not to mention that the enslavement to logics and wishes imposed from above would end up making him blackmailable, tamed in a certain sense, annihilating his rebellious nature and with it all the antagonistic thrusts to modern football, to the choices of owners and politics, etc. . All real dangers, all legitimate fears but returning to the philosophical glass above, one can only see it as half full. Above all, it is surprising that a Government engaged in its harsh repressive outbursts in the streets in these days interfaces in dialogue, in confrontation and in concessions, as marginal as we like but which become sensational in relation to the local situation, centered on a State and a public opinion who have always seen and treated organized supporters on a par with a terrorist association, without dignity of speech, of law or of confrontation.

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However, it is essential that this is only a starting point. And just as in the past there were those who disregarded and challenged the bans, punishments, papers and papers of the gray censors, we continue to demonstrate not only in the button rooms but also actively how stupid these claims and limitations are.

Matthew Falcone

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