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Toronto FC suspends supporters’ group privileges indefinitely after flare incident

Flares set off by Toronto FC fans caused a small fire and an explosion during its Canadian Championship semifinal first leg against the Ottawa Fury. (Martyn Bailey/@martyn_bailey)

Toronto FC has suspended all supporter-group privileges indefinitely after a flare caused a small fire at its Canadian Championship semifinal first leg against the Ottawa Fury on Wednesday night.

Fire services were called to TD Place when banners hung by TFC fans appeared to set on fire as flares were let off in the away supporters’ section. One video showed a flare bouncing onto the pitch before exploding, causing damage to the stadium’s artificial turf. No significant delay to the game was caused, with Toronto winning 1-0.

Multiple fans were ejected but no arrests were made. Reds president Bill Manning said in a statement all of the club’s sanctioned supporters’ groups would have their privileges revoked while the program that regulates them is reviewed and the Ottawa incident is investigated.

“The safety of our fans, employees and supporters is the highest priority for TFC,” Manning said. “The events which took place in Ottawa last night involving TFC supporters were unacceptable and needlessly put the safety of others at risk. 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.”

Inebriatti, the supporters’ group that sits in section 114 at BMO Field and is known for its particularly fervent support, has denied involvement in the incident. The group has been sanctioned by TFC on multiple occasions — most recently leaving its section empty at the June 13 game against D.C. United — and bore the brunt of criticism from other fans on social media after Wednesday’s game when its banners and flags were spotted in the vicinity of the flares.

Inebriatti does not condone interfering with the play of any match that we attend. We had no part in the flare that was…

Posted by Inebriatti on Thursday, July 19, 2018

“Inebriatti does not condone interfering with the play of any match that we attend,” a statement posted on Facebook read. “We had no part in the flare that was thrown onto the field or the explosion at last night’s match in Ottawa. We are communicating with the relevant parties to understand what happened at the match last night and how to move forward once that is established.”

TFC has five other recognized supporters’ groups: Red Patch Boys, U-Sector, Original 109, Kings In The North and Tribal Rhythm Nation.

Toronto plays its return leg against Ottawa at BMO Field on Wednesday, July 25. Its next home game in MLS is against the Chicago Fire three days later.

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