Fire department pulls tifo from Charlotte FC over flammability concerns

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte FC fans and the Charlotte Fire Department are at odds over smoke bombs and flammable banners at soccer games inside Bank of America Stadium.

On Saturday, during Charlotte FC’s 2-0 home win over the NY Red Bulls, the CFD cancelled the supporter group’s use of its tifo, the large banners displayed over the supporter section ahead of each home match.

According to CFD’s fire marshal’s office, the display was abandoned after smoke bombs were brought into the stadium that could catch the banner on fire.

“In the past, we have permitted the temporary use of non-flame-retardant, highly combustible tifo banners with the understanding that no smoke bombs or other ignition sources would be present,” a statement from the fire marshal’s office said.

At Saturday’s match, CFD said smoke bombs were confiscated from the supporter before the match and two other smoke bombs were set off in the section. One smoke bomb was set off shortly before the tifo banner was to be unveiled, according to the department.

The smoke bombs produce a flame and could have ignited the flammable banner when it was unfurled over the supporter group. According to CFD, a tifo banner caught fire in a similar incident during a soccer match in the Netherlands earlier this year.

CFD said that Bank of America Stadium staff reported learning that fans in the stadium were passing smoke bombs out throughout the supporter section.

“For these reasons and in the interest of public safety a decision was made to cancel the use of the untreated, combustible tifo for this match,” the fire department said. “We have a plan in place to ensure these banners are either flame treated by an approved company or are made with inherently flame retardant materials moving forward.”

The fire department said Bank of America Stadium staff were aware and agreed with CFD’s decision to remove the banner.

Channel 9 has reached out to the supporter group for comment and is waiting to hear back.

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