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Some TFC fans arrested, Tasered, after CLB game
March 31, 2009, 7:16 AM
Filed under: Columbus Crew, TFC Supporters, Toronto FC

They are the “12th man” for Toronto FC, the big reason the team found instant fan appeal and why BMO Field is the place to be for a memorable game experience.

But some TFC supporters gave themselves and the club, a black eye in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday with behaviour that led to brawls, police stun guns and even condemnation from Toronto fans who were at the 1-1 game against the hometown Crew.

“My information is that as fans were leaving, several fights broke out in the parking lot and the special duty officers had to request assistance,” Rich Weiner, public information officer with the Columbus Police Department, said yesterday.

“Some people were Tasered, some were arrested. I know at least a couple were taken to jail, but if (charges) were of a serious nature, I would know by now. Those involved likely would have posted a bond.”

Whether the arrested fans were Canadians or Americans is unknown. The Columbus Dispatch reported at least three arrests, but police would not confirm the number.

The Crew and a TFC official did not immediately return calls from Sun Media last night.

A YouTube clip of a TFC fan getting tackled by several officers after apparently being hit with a stun gun was one of many crowd images posted yesterday and there was heavy web traffic with varying accounts of the crowd antics during the game and the fighting afterwards.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 Toronto fans made the six-hour drive, most of them belonging to designated clubs such as the Red Patch Boys and U-Sector.

“Some, but not all, were drunken boobs who didn’t know if they were in Baffin Island or Columbus, Ohio,” a fan named Chris told Sun Media, not wanting his last name used.

“They were very disrespectful during the American anthem, they hid under a giant red flag and threw smoke bombs at the security guards on the sidelines … one of my own friends was even chanting ‘you have no health care’ at their fans.

“I try and keep an open mind, but I also believe in respect. They are blue-collar people such as ourselves. There were some tough looking Columbus fans with bandanas covering their faces who were headed towards the TFC fans, so when you ask for trouble, you get trouble.”

The Dispatch reported part of a steel bleacher railing was pulled out by Toronto fans and thrown on a tent below and some bleacher seats damaged.

Some mace or pepper spray was used to break up the scrappers and wafted through the parking lot causing discomfort to families and young children.

Jack Depoe, president of the Red Patch Boys, said there was an understanding with Crew Stadium security that most Toronto fans would remain inside after the game.

“Until the coast was clear, for lack of a better term,” he said. “But I don’t think the execution was as good as it could have been.” Most fans of both teams used the same exit.

“There are people passionate about soccer on both teams,” Depoe said, “The MLS hasn’t had this kind of attention before. To me (the police involvement) seemed heavy-handed, but I don’t know Columbus. You get the same kind of crowd behaviour at a Buffalo Bills’ game.

“I can only speak for Red Patch Boys. There were 700 of us, we had a blast, a few beers, but as far as I know, none were arrested.”

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