Why is it that a mild scuffle between two supporters groups has all of a sudden given Toronto fans such a bad name?
American media tends to feed off negative press and scandals. Major League Soccer is definitely not a source of such writing material. So as soon as something negative occurs, writers, bloggers, and critics are quick to point fingers and classify an enemy and a victim.
Whatever the case, the allegations that the Toronto FC fans single-handedly caused the events that transpired at Crew Stadium in Columbus after last Saturday's game are unwarranted.
I have been to countless sporting events, witnessing altercations which make last Saturday's debacle appear quite minuscule. A couple of fans fight and all of a sudden hooliganism is at the forefront of every conversation and TFC fans are the epitome.
Acts of violence occur right in the stands, leading to multiple arrests at sporting events across this continent. But you cannot draw up a North American comparison to hooliganism. The raw hatred displayed by European or South American soccer firms have, on countless occasions, turned sporting grounds into mirror images of combat at the Gaza Strip.
TFC fans are being portrayed as idiots and animals. Advocates are calling for them to be controlled and punished for their actions, while pacifying the behaviour of their beloved home team.
Approximately 200 Columbus fans from the "Hudson Street Hooligans," among other supporter groups, intentionally integrated themselves into a sea of TFC supporters as they departed the stadium. I do not believe that they did so with the intention to engage in violence. Perhaps they wanted to engage in an old-fashioned shouting and chanting match. But inevitably, the former did happen.
I'm not implying that security is to blame for this as they did not expect this type of incident to occur. Security at sporting events in the state of Ohio has been historically adequate. An Ohio State college football type of affair draws over 100,000 fans on a regular basis without any major issues.
The mere fact that opposing supporter groups were in the same area poses questions as to what could be done better in regards to crowd control the next time these two teams meet.
On the bright side it wasn't all cursing and fisticuffs.
Many TFC supporters have gone as far as saying that the home supporters were quite welcoming and were interested in exchanging scarves and other memorabilia for their collection. They interacted civilly and look forward to returning once again.
For lack of a better cliche I say it takes two to tango and although we might have been wearing our dancing shoes, the Columbus fans brought the drums and guitars. So refrain from labelling the Toronto FC faithful as "hooligans." Such status is not one which they are striving to achieve.