Liverpool and Manchester United have been asked by the FA to provide insight into the disturbing footage that emerged from Wednesday’s Capital One Cup tie, which appears to show a flare being thrown into the United section.
The East Stand, which held in the region of 7,000 Liverpool fans, suddenly sparked concern when a red flare emerged during the game. The flare was thrown onto a section of supporters below, clearly endangering their safety.
An FA spokesman commented, per Mark Johnson of the Liverpool Echo:
The Football Association has contacted Manchester United and Liverpool to seek their observations into the incidents with flares during the Capital One Cup tie.
The FA, Premier League and Football League are currently working together on the issue of flares, in conjunction with the Fire Service and St John Ambulance, in an effort to alert supporters to the potential dangers.
The incident threatens to mar what was a successful night from a security standpoint, with only 10 arrests made—none of which were in connection with the flare.
United beat Liverpool 1-0 thanks to a Javier Hernandez goal. However, given the high-emotion occasion of Luis Suarez’s return from a 10-game ban—against a side with whom he has a bitter history—the night passed off with few issues.
The fixture, historically, has thrown up plenty of controversy—both at Old Trafford and Anfield. Both sets of supporters have been known to sing unsavoury songs about their rivals’ previous tragedies, while Suarez was found guilty of racial abuse toward Patrice Evra two seasons ago.
On the field, the fixture has never been short of a red card and players have occasionally found themselves the target of missiles. Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney were the targets of a burger and a mobile phone respectively, while Steven Gerrard has had coins aimed in his direction.
Neither United nor Liverpool face punishment for the latest flare controversy, but the clubs will be asked to encourage a better relationship between their fans ahead of the next scheduled league meeting, which takes place at Old Trafford on March 15.
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre recently spoke of the damage caused to the club brand by Suarez's misdemeanours, per The Telegraph, so the Reds will be keen to eradicate any behaviour that can further harm their image.
A flare, sizzling at 2,000-degree heat, according to Laurie Whitwell of the Daily Mail, could have caused lasting damage to an individual in the lower stand and done likewise to the club.