Windsor firework attack: Northern Ireland fans exonerated as Romania are hit with fine
Irish FA President Jim Shaw says it is reassuring that Northern Ireland fans have finally been completely exonerated in the Windsor Park firework case that has left Romania with a €17,000 fine to pay to Uefa.
More than two months after a firework was thrown during Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 qualifier against Romania, hitting and injuring local photographer Darren Kidd, European football's governing body announced yesterday that the Romanian Football Federation had been fined for 'incidents' during the game in Belfast on June 13.
The Uefa punishment, dished out after an investigation, was for 'crowd disturbances' and the displaying of an 'illicit banner' from Romania fans at the Group F fixture, which finished 0-0.
When asked for detail about the €17,000 penalty, which amounts to £12,145, a Uefa official told the Belfast Telegraph the 'crowd disturbances' related to 'pyrotechnics and the throwing of objects'.
IFA President Shaw stated: "It is reassuring that it has been proved that Northern Ireland supporters did not cause the problem with the firework against Romania."
“We were confident that was going to be the case,” added Shaw.
In the immediate aftermath of the Euro 2016 qualifier there had been conjecture where the firework came from, but video evidence showed it was thrown from the Romanian end.
As Uefa announced the punishment for Romania, they also revealed that their Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body had issued a warning to the IFA to ensure that similar incidents be avoided in the future.
It is a shot across the bows that the IFA’s security needs to improve and that no fireworks should be allowed into Windsor Park going forward. Shaw insists the IFA will heed that warning.
He said: “We provided Uefa with video evidence which helped demonstrate where the firework had come from. Now we want to move forward and focus on Northern Ireland’s important European Championship qualifiers coming up next month against the Faroe Islands and Hungary.”
As for Mr Kidd, who suffered neck and ear injuries and needed medical treatment following the firework incident, he is still recovering.
The Romanian Football Federation have the right of appeal to the €17,000 fine, though there would be a fair degree of surprise at Uefa if they do.
As well as the ‘crowd disturbances’ the Romanians were punished for an ‘illicit banner’ on display at Windsor which was said to show ‘messages of a political nature’ written in Romanian.
Any political message at a football match is frowned upon by Uefa.
On the pitch, Romania and Northern Ireland are well placed to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals. The Romanians top Group F on 14 points with Michael O’Neill’s side in second on 13. Hungary are third on 11. The top two automatically make it to next year’s finals in France with the third-placed team guaranteed a play-off.