TFC home-opener turns ugly


MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke marched alongside fans waving a Toronto FC flags before the football club’s long-awaited home-opener at BMO Field Sunday. It will be the last march of this kind he will make as MLSE boss, as he is set to depart next month.

Leiweke beamed with pride, eager for Toronto FC fans to get a look at his darling, the most noteworthy impact he’s made on the Toronto sports scene since arriving with a flourish in 2013: an upper tier over the stadium’s east stands, phase 1 of a $120-million upgrade to up capacity by 8,000 (to more than 30,000 seats) and convert the facility into a world-class soccer stadium. There’s also a new $3 million scoreboard and a Tunnel Club where a select 200 fans can pay $1,500 annual membership to eat and drink and watch the games. The new Toronto FC is all dressed up.

There was a palpable buzz in the lead-up to the game with an announced attendance of 30, 226, the largest in BMO Field history. Newly-acquired Italian player Sebastian “Gio” Giovinco  drew the loudest cheer during the announcement of the starting lineup. Southside supporters were as rambunctious as ever before kick-off, with the new East Stand seemingly giving their cheers and taunts added oomph.  

But the result on the field was eerily familiar: a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the lowly Houston Dynamo. 

They sat back throughout the first half, attacking timidly at best and relying too heavily on captain Michael Bradley. Bradley didn’t look his best but still played with the tenacious edge that’s become his calling card. Sadly, the rest of the squad failed to follow his inspirational lead. Houston dominated possession and after a 53rd minute goal to put Dynamo up 2-0, the crowd began to turn.

Toronto FC fans had waited long enough to get a look first hand at what was supposed to be a new and improved team, and were not liking what they saw.

Even after a late Jozy Altidore header made it 2-1, a sense of anger amongst fans was evident, all the energy before the match quickly sapped out of them. Yes, BMO Field now looks and feels like a real soccer stadium. The team, however, is as sluggish as ever.

FC’s dismal performance led to a certain portion of the crowd voicing their frustrations in an unhealthy manner, including derogatory and sexist remarks hurled towards Dynamo players. There was no shortage of children and young families in attendance and at times the atmosphere was not unlike the obnoxious drunk patrons you’d find in the 500 level at early season Jays games.

BMO Field employees obeying laws governing serving of alcohol is not the issue here. It’s about ensuring a tolerant atmosphere where fans can expect an abuse-free experience.

This will indeed be a challenge, as was evident when CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt, during her live coverage post-game report, became the target of “fuck her right in the pussy”  comments from passersby. The insults continued even after she confronted them live on TV. 

An MLSE spokesperson reached by the Sun called the incident “disgusting.” Seems MLSE has more than just the on-field mess to clean up.


Hydro One, the former employer of one of the men who interrupted Shauna Hunt’s newscast, issued a statement saying they’ve terminated the employee: | @nowtoronto



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