THE Scottish government has condemned the widespread use of pyrotechnics at the Scottish Cup semi-final yesterday and stressed that Police Scotland will have increased powers in place to tackle offenders when the final is played in June.

A large number of flares, smoke canisters and strobes were set off by both Celtic and Rangers supporters before the match between the Glasgow rivals at Hampden.

And kick-off in the last four encounter, which was shown live on television by satellite broadcasters Viaplay, was delayed for several minutes to allow thick smoke inside the stadium to clear.

The Herald:

Nobody was injured during the coordinated displays and police only made five arrests for “minor public order offences” during an Old Firm game that was watched by a crowd of nearly 50,000 people.

However, many fans threw lit devices, which burn at temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius, from the stands onto the track which runs around the pitch and several of them narrowly missed match day stewards.

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First Minister Humza Yousaf, who warned of the dangers of pyrotechnics at football matches back in March and pledged to hold talks with all stakeholders in the Scottish game about how to address the escalating problem, was a guest of the SFA at the match.

The Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 made it illegal for anyone to be in possession of a pyrotechnic article entering or attending a sporting event in this country. 

However, MSPs at Holyrood passed the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022 – which enables police officers to search anyone who they believe may be carrying pyrotechnic devices outside of a ground without warrant – last year and that is set to come into force next month.

The Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, whose supporters also threw smoke bombs onto the pitch before and during their semi-final against Falkirk on Saturday, will take place at Hampden on Saturday, June 3.

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A Scottish government spokesman said: “No one should be put at risk of harm from the misuse of pyrotechnic articles.

“It is already a criminal offence to take, or attempt to take, pyrotechnics, including fireworks, into football stadiums and the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022 will provide Police Scotland with further measures to deter and prevent their use from June 2023.

“We welcome the stance that football authorities, clubs, many fans and fan groups, as well as front-line services, have taken to pyrotechnic misuse, speaking out against it and working together on joint messaging and awareness-raising.”

The Herald:

Speaking to Radio Clyde back in March after the Viaplay Cup final between Celtic and Rangers had been marred by extensive pyrotechnic use, Mr Yousaf said: “I’d be keen to talk to all of those involved in Scottish football around pyrotechnics.

“It is frankly dangerous. We have seen in other European countries just the use of pyrotechnics how they can cause real damage to people, real injury.

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“And I’m a football fan, I love watching the football. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the stadium, right enough, because of the job.

“But we want it to be a safe environment for families to come to as well, so more than happy if I am elected First Minister to make sure that the justice secretary and I have those conversations with the footballing stakeholders to see what we can do to ensure that our game, our beautiful game, our nation’s game, is as safe as possible for everyone.”