Toronto FC suspends fan groups' privileges after fire in stands
Toronto FC has suspended the privileges of all supporters' groups in the wake of a fire in the stands that disrupted Wednesday night's Canadian Championship match at the Ottawa Fury.
The game was stopped for about five minutes in the second half when a loud blast echoed from the Toronto fans' section and their banners caught fire.
The Fury said after the game that Toronto fans had "smuggled a small quantity of fireworks into the stadium and ignited them." Fireworks and flares are both prohibited from the stadium.
Some fans were ejected, though no arrests were made at the stadium. As Ottawa police launched an investigation, Toronto FC moved to discipline its fans on Thursday.
"The safety of our fans, employees and supporters is the highest priority for TFC. The events which took place in Ottawa last night involving TFC supporters were unacceptable and needlessly put the safety of others at risk," club president Bill Manning said in a statement.
"Due to the seriousness of this incident we are left with no choice but to suspend all recognized supporter group privileges indefinitely as we conduct a thorough review of TFC's recognized supporter program. We are fully cooperating with the Ottawa Police Department as they investigate this incident and work to identify those responsible."
And just like that #TorontoFC #TFC supporters have set fire to our field and stadium. LOSERS!!!! @TorontoFCViews @TorontoFCII @torontofc #CanChamp #FuryFC #WeStandTogether where are @OttawaPolice this calls for arrests!!! pic.twitter.com/IHhIK0axtS— Fury Fan From Above (@FuryFanAbove) July 19, 2018
Fans lit at least two flares, one of which ended up on the field and another that flamed at the front of the stands.
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney apologized for his club's fans after the game.
"I would say, on behalf of the club, that we are embarrassed about the incident in the stands," Vanney said. "Obviously, it will be looked at by the match commissioner and they will handle it accordingly, but from a club perspective, from the team side, it just turned into an embarrassing scene. We apologize from our side."
When the game resumed, Toronto held on to win 1-0 and take a lead into next week's return leg of the teams' semifinal clash.