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Found this interesting Article on Toronto's next opponent.


Are Fire fans dangerous?

Bridgeview mayor claims security move violates civil rights

April 24, 2007

By Kim Janssen Staff writer

A crackdown on "rowdy" soccer fans was halted at the last moment Saturday after Bridgeview Mayor Steve Landek compared attempts to single out hard-core Chicago Fire supporters for security checks with the profiling of Arabs at airports.

Toyota Park security bosses -- unhappy that smoke bombs and flares were thrown at the Fire's last home game last season and home opener this season -- planned to frisk 500 members of the Fire's Section 8 supporters' association before the game Saturday against the Kansas City Wizards.

» Click to enlarge image

Chicago Fire soccer fans and security forces Toyota Park have been at odds over search prodecures.

(David Banks/Daily Southtown)

But Section 8 members, who model their vociferous displays of support on European and South American soccer fans, were furious Fire bosses wanted to force them to enter through a single turnstile and submit to searches while thousands of other supporters entered the stadium relatively unimpeded.

They also argue Major League Soccer has sent mixed messages about pyrotechnics by using images of flares in advertisements.

The fractious relationship between Section 8 and stadium security last year saw a fan charged with assaulting a security guard and the guard dismissed after he allegedly took revenge in a stadium lockup.

Fearing a further deterioration, Landek intervened Saturday morning, writing to Toyota Park chiefs Mike Madison and Jay Cooper to warn them fans' civil rights would be harmed by the search plan.

"The manner in which this issue is being handled is shocking," he wrote in an e-mail seen by the Southtown.

"The concept of security personnel searching supposed members of a group, because of a perceived threat, walks a dangerous line."

He added, "If this is a sound decision, then why don't airlines search the ethnic group who has committed more hijackings than other ethnic groups?"

Fire spokesman Daniel Jankowski confirmed "there was a meeting a couple of hours before the game and it was decided to use measures we've used successfully in the past."

Beer bottles smuggled past security and "dangerous, toxic" spent flares had been found in Section 8's area after previous games, he said, adding, "The main thing is that Toyota Park is a safe place for people to come and enjoy themselves."

Section 8 chairman Ben Burton said Landek was successful in halting the searches before most fans entered the stadium.

The mayor joined Section 8 fans behind the goal at the north end of the stadium during the first half of Saturday's 2-1 victory, Burton said, adding "He said he had a good time.

"We know it is normal to be searched when entering any big event -- a concert, ball game or whatever -- but the issue was 'Why are we being searched and nobody else is?'"

Landek's support was key in luring the Fire to Bridgeview, but in its first season at Toyota Park, the team barely managed to attract an average attendance of 14,000 -- the figure Landek said the village was banking on to make payments on the $149 million stadium.

Section 8 fans "have supported the Fire and this stadium project from the beginning," Landek noted in his e-mail.

Nobody was arrested Saturday, Bridgeview police Sgt. Mark McFall said.

Landek did not return calls seeking comment Monday.

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I think there's been a love-hate relationship between the Fire & their security staff and Section 8 regulars for a long time now. Sure you could probably google quite a few articules relating to it.

Guessing because I'm pretty far removed from it of course, but I think the local security don't know quite what to make of the Section 8 supporters although you'd think by now they would have learned.

And finding bootleg empties in the stands? So big deal. Guy could probably buy a used car if he cashed in all the empties he found in the grandstands after a Bears game.

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Fire Fans are not dangerous. Its just that security staff at US sports events are so used to fans who sit on their keesters mumbling a half-hearted "Charge" when the PA announcer tells them too (between mouthfuls of their jumbo hot-dogs) that they don't know what to make of a soccer supporters section. So far TFC has been pretty good, and alot of this is due to the fact that GM Paul Beirne spent time meeting the supporters here in Toronto. He got to know us and understands that passionate soccer support does not automatically equal trouble.

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