Russian soccer fan fires flare gun, nearly hits referee at midfield (Video)

(Screen shot via YouTube)

Pyrotechnics are, rather oddly, a regular feature of European soccer. They’re especially prevalent in Eastern Europe, where fans are especially poorly behaved. But still … what you’re about to watch is not in any way common or sane.

A Champions League match between Russia’s Spartak Moscow and Slovenia’s NK Maribor was interrupted when a flare came careening through the air from one end of the stadium toward midfield. It just barely missed the referee:

The projectile appeared to come from the visiting Spartak fans, who, as you can see at the beginning of the video, have a particular affection for flames and smoke while watching soccer matches.

The flare’s sudden appearance briefly delayed the game, but after a few minutes, play resumed.

As you might expect, sneaking a flare gun into a stadium and firing it in the direction of the field isn’t exactly a way to ingratiate oneself with authorities. The Russian fans had reportedly clashed with police prior to their team’s 2017-18 Champions League opener, and will likely face sanctions from UEFA, European soccer’s governing body.

Spartak returns home for its second match of the group stage on Sept. 26. Its opponent? Liverpool.

(Original video: YouTube)

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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.