It was not a pretty scene in the BMO Field bleachers on Tuesday night as Toronto FC lost 2-1 to CF Montreal in the Canadian Championship quarterfinal. The match was marred by several fights and incidents in the stands, some of which were recorded and posted to social media while prompting an investigation by TFC officials and a response from Montreal.
Much like basically every stadium, Toronto’s BMO Field has a designated section for away fans who can come and support their team in safety. However, apparent security failures meant there was no one to separate the two sets of fans, resulting in a fight breaking out when Toronto supporters were seen brawling in the away end.
Hey @TorontoFC, you knew we were coming to the game, you told us there would be security.
They came directly at us. You let this happen. Fire the whole security department.#CFMTL #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/W5BeCAzhVs
— Ethan (@Ethan960) May 9, 2023
After the final whistle blew, TFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye had to be restrained from going into the south stands and going after some abusive TFC fans after one was caught on video throwing a megaphone on the field in Kaye's direction.
Altercation between Mark Anthony Kaye (tfc player) and TFC Supporters in today’s derby lost vs Cf Montreal #TFCLive #torontofc #altercation #ultras #derby #cfmtl #canada #canadianderby pic.twitter.com/L5ELOOMO5C
— Ultras Barras Usa (@UltrasBarrasUsa) May 10, 2023
"Toronto FC and MLSE have a zero-tolerance policy for violence, and we continue to prioritize the safety of our fans, players and staff," said a club spokesperson, "We are committed to ensuring BMO Field is a safe and welcoming environment for all. Further details and actions will be available once the investigations are complete."
Attention now turns to Saturday evening when the two clubs are scheduled to meet in Major League Soccer action at Stade Saputo. In an attempt to mitigate any further violence, Montreal put out a statement on Wednesday, calling the incidents "unfortunate and unacceptable" and announcing that the away section at Stade Saputo will be closed for the game.
"CF Montreal condemns all acts of violence, and an investigation is underway," the statement added. "The safety of our fans and supporter groups is of paramount importance to the club. No violence of any kind is tolerated at Stade Saputo, nor at any other stadium to which our fans travel.
"We have consequently made the decision to close the visiting supporters' section at Stade Saputo for Saturday's (league) game against Toronto. TFC fans who purchased tickets in this section will be refunded. We are in discussion with Canada Soccer, Major League Soccer and Toronto FC to ensure that all future events take place in a safe and secure environment."
This isn’t the first time fans on either side of the Canadian Classique have clashed, but it was the first time there's been a physical altercation in the stands while a game was actually being played.
Towards the end of the 2021 season, just two weeks after Toronto fans were assaulted outside the stadium, Montreal said it was shutting down section 132 after "repeated incidents of violence, physical and verbal aggression, intimidation and vandalism." The section is one of the two areas behind each net where ultras would gather.
All traveling Toronto fans who bought tickets for that section will be reimbursed. Kickoff at Stade Saputo is scheduled for 7:30 pm.