I've been to one European football match before (flashback to my Olympique Lyonnais experience) but Czech football is in a league of its own. A friend scored us some tickets to one of the largest rival games in the Czech Republic- Sparta Praha vs Slavia Praha (3rd row for only 220 CZK- that's about $11)! We were in for quite an experience- surely one I will never forget.
Sparta Praha fans
Slavia Praha fans
This match wasn't actually about football, it was about fans. The fans were on fire... literally! First we saw flares then fire. My American and Northern Irish friends who were with me felt uncomfortable and prepared to evacuate. The fires seemed to be out of control! Hardly. According to our Czech friends it is completely normal. It is what the "Ultra" fans normally do to rile up the other team's "Ultra" fans. These hooligans are separated from other spectators by a high security metal railing fence with an anti-climb curved top. Conclusion: these guys challenge each other to the biggest fire in the stadium while at the same time being unable to escape quickly if something goes wrong. What does security do? They make an announcement "Please refrain from using pyrotechnics inside the stadium." So we drank our beers and ate our sausages while watching a football match illuminated by fire and engulfed in a stadium of smoke. Sparta Praha won 2-0. What a night!