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Supporters Sections and Flags




This past Saturday I took up a spot, for the first time this season, in section 114 at BMO Field with my brother, father and a large group of friends with Toronto FC supporters group Inebriatti.


The support in the stands as our local side took down the Philadelphia Union was terrific, reminiscent of some of the great nights we had in the first three or four years of supporting the club before things went sour for a variety of reasons.

As I made my way home on the GO Train later that night, still buzzing from the fun we'd had in the stands and from seeing TFC turn in a great display, I jumped on Twitter to read a recap of the match.

Before I got as far as a match report to my surprise I found that not everyone in the South End had shared my views on the way the day unfolded though.

Duane Rollins, Managing Editor of the Canadian Soccer News and a fairly well known TFC supporter, reported that there had been several complaints from fans at the top of section 114 and 115 who were annoyed at the flags being waved by supporters during the match.

It's important to note that it wasn't Rollins making the complaints himself, but rather noting that other "people were angry" and the club should address it because "punches will get thrown."

This threw me for a loop as I assumed that, by what is in fact the ninth season of the club's existence, someone taking up a spot in the South End at BMO Field would understand that they're in a supporters section and what that means.

In my apparent ignorance I believed that BMO Field's South End denizens would know that besides fans standing for the duration of the match, flags and other displays may obscure some of their view.

In fact, the club itself has helpfully posted on their website the following description of the sections in question:

"For all Toronto FC matches, sections 111 through 119, as well as the top half of section 110 and part of section 127 are considered Supporters Sections. Fans in these sections will be permitted to stand during play and are encouraged to cheer and use pre-approved banners, flags and drums. Please note that the view from these seats may be obstructed and that all banners, flags and drums must be approved in advance of gameday by the Toronto FC front office."



There are also signs in these particular sections that state something to the same effect.

So what is the problem?

Do those complaining not want to be in a supporters section where the reality of drums, flags and displays are very much a reality, or do they want a supporters section on their terms where a group like Inebriatti can entertain them with their passion, but not do anything to block a second of the action?

Or are they in the section because of the cheaper price point these seats are sold at?

I'm not trying to belittle those with complaints, because I respect the fact that we all like to watch and experience football in our own ways, but if having supporter's groups waving flags and hoisting up displays angers you, perhaps you don't appreciate what it is they're trying to do and should look to move into a different section.

Some might argue that they have been in the section since day one and Inebriatti is somewhat of a newcomer to 114 having been established for just a few years, which I can certainly understand. But again the South End has been designated a supporters section since day one and this group isn't breaking any of the rules the club laid out for areas in the ground like this.

Hopefully a compromise can be reached, because from my humble opinion it's great to see what they and the other supporters groups have been doing this season.

For the record I'm not a member of Inebriatti, but I do have friends that are. I think they and the other supporters groups put a lot of time, effort, and money into supporting the club. The passion they help stir up in the crowd is part of the match day experience and I actually believe this does help the team.

Toronto, as a city, has gotten a lot of flack in recent weeks for our capacity to complain about everything. Complaining about how people are supporting in a supporters section seems to be another example of that.

It would be interesting to know what is happening in other grounds around the league in regards to flags and what some of the folks affected at BMO feel about this issue. Comments below are welcomed and appreciated.
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40 comments :

  1. Well said!! Inebriatti brings it every game. Thank God a group like them has popped up because support has been dead for years. I hope they grow and take over the south end in years to come. Toronto support culture needs to change and maybe this is the start.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback on the article. I was trying to be as understanding as I could to those that have complaints, but really after 9 years people should know what to expect in a supporters section. Inebriatti are doing some great stuff this season and along with the Kings, RPB, USector and the others, the South End is really jumping again.

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  2. Barring the unification of the entire south end, the energy happening in 114 is most welcome. Its ELECTRIC! Flags, displays and chants make BMO what it was in 2007. That said, everyone's game day experience should be respected, and complaints should be taken seriously from the supporters groups and the casual fans. I'm certain a happy median can be achieved where everyone gets what they want, keeping in mind the clear message from MLSE about exactly what to expect when watching the game from the south end. Obstructive views are part of the south end experience. I support what all the groups are doing and in particular what the Inebriatti have been bringing week in week out. Long may it continue!!

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    1. I agree completely. I would think people would understand what's acceptable in a supporters section by now, including the use of flags, so I'm hopeful something can be worked out.
      Otherwise kudos to Inebriatti and the great work they're doing in the stands.

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  3. Great article Iain and we're glad that you enjoyed your day in 114! To provide a little more context on this issue we've been getting complaints about flags since we formed in Section 111 in 2013 (people used to call us "flaggots" which I thought was both clever and homophobic at the same time, but I digress). This year with the growth of our group and relocation to the front of 114 we've been making new friends and detractors every week which I suppose is part and parcel of the growing process. Many of those who take issue with the flags are upset with our desire to wave flags throughout much of the match and have asked us to only wave them during specific periods (i.e. pregame until KO, at stoppages in play, half time, goal celebrations, end of the match etc.) so as not to block their view of the run of play. Their displeasure has been exasperated since last match due to our new flags (a 4m X 4m and a 4m X 2m). The smaller flags have caused issues before but now we're getting a lot of pushback due to the big beauties. A lot of the complaints that I have heard seem to be a little hyperbolic because the big ones are on telescopic poles and combined with their sheer size they're heave 'AF' and are uncomfortable to wave for a full 90+ minutes. Last week we waved them for approximately 7-10 minutes in total during the match but I think their emergence has pushed people to a boiling point. I'm not going to get into my take on the situation here because I'd rather discuss things in person and I'm also incredibly biased since I'm a member of Inebriatti so my view will be skewed towards the 'IDGAF' end of the spectrum (sorrynotsorry) but I wanted to elaborate on why there was such a noticeable and negative reaction to what we do. I will say this: come talk to us before the match and try to understand why we're doing what we do. We're not there to ruin anyone's gameday but we've also fought hard for the concessions and rights that we've been given and we're not interested in ceding them because they ruffle a few feathers. Our mentality isn't for everyone but we're not going to apologize for who we are and what we do. I think that the atmosphere at BMO this year has improved and improves each game exponentially and I'd like to think that what we bring each week is a small part of that improvement; flags and all.

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    1. Sorry, this is Eli, one of the capos writing this

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    2. Thanks for filling the blanks on this issue Eli. I approached this as very much an outsider that, as I said in the piece, hadn't been in the section before Saturday but I really appreciate and support what you guys are doing. I honestly couldn't believe the backlash. If you were in an area not disignated as a supporters section then I can completely understand people being upset, but that's not the case. I also didn't think that the flags had been up that much during the match anyway.

      I was a part of NEE for five years or so, so I do know the battles the supporters groups have had to go through to get to where they are now.

      All the best and I hope the situation gets worked out.

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    3. Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love. The backlash I think is in large part to the fact that we've shown up and are trying to radically change things. Change scares people, and when people are scared they often react with aggression. Evolutionary tendencies I suppose. We were expecting this, we just thought it would rear it's ugly head sooner. But, as we say in our song: we don't give a fuck.

      Much respect and love to NEE! Hope to see you in 114 again soon!

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  4. Although I clearly appreciate what the supporters groups do at BMO, I think the primary reason for attending a football is to see the action on the field. If there was no game to watch, then there is no reason to be there in the first place. For the game against Philly I was at the back of 114 (as I always am actually) and I did miss large chunks of game due to the flags. It did spoil the game for me. A number of folks around me got angry to the point of boiling over - which isn't really cool. I think the Inebriatti can create an atmosphere without ruining other's experience - for sure wave giant flags at the start, half and end, and during celebrations - but when a couple of hundred people at the back of 114 and 115 miss a goal or a penalty or a red card I think it crosses the line. There is a time and a place for everything, of course. Imagine setting flares off constantly throughout the game or having the giant red shirt-banner constantly over all the seats so nobody could see. The giant flag waving, in affect, is exactly the same as having a fog of flares around you or a giant banner over you head. I hope the Inebriatti can understand others frustrations and compromise whilst continuing their work trying to improve the atmosphere at BMO. The LAST thing I, or anybody else wants to see is our own fans literally fighting among themselves as that would bring the complete end of flag waving and flares and drums from the TFC Front Office. All supporters in the south end of BMO realise that it is a "supporters section" and we all expect chanting, flares, rude language, and even flags - but not constantly throughout the game. I don't know the the massive flag was up for 10 minutes or longer in total, but in a football game there can be something that can happen in a second that is important. I would be really upset if I missed Seba scoring an overhead kick into the top right hand corner due to a flag covering the whole of the goal mouth at that second.
    Ryan.

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    1. Hey Ryan,
      Inebriatti does want flares the whole time. That is the sticking point. We go home and watch the match over again on PVR because we see the $200/season SSH prices as part of the bargain of being in the southend: you're there to do a job as well.

      We would love to have flares going the whole time and WE (understandably not everyone in 114 but we as Inebriatti) will continue to have our flags up whenever whoever is waving it sees fit. Again, SSH in 114 were supposed to be warned about what we intended to do in our little corner of the section and from what I understand they were supposed to be offer to relocate at the same price. Whether some ticket reps fucked up on this I can't tell you for certain but I'm starting to get the sneaking suspicion that some of them fucked the bucket on that one. We're not waving them the whole game, you admitted that but if you don't want to risk missing part of the action because of obstructed view then you don't belong in the Southend. Sorry but that's the reality of the situation. If you're concerned about missing split second plays, well then your concern goes beyond our big flags and you need to take heed of the warnings that the TFC website, signs in the southend and your ticket rep (theoretically at least for this last one) give you. I think that our emergence in 114 has been a shock to some people which is why there has been this backlash but we're within our rights to do what we're doing and again sorry-not sorry. The supporter section is clearly designated as an area that you will likely miss some plays.

      I'm a broke sonofabitch as well so I feel for people that can't afford tickets elsewhere due to the high price but if you've been a loyal supporter and customer of TFC since year one then your ticket rep should be able to figure out some way to accommodate your desire to see the game unobstructed and make sure that you don't break the bank doing it either. I'm in sales, customer service is all about that sort of problem solving. If they're not willing to budge then take it up with MLSE.

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    2. This man is a hero!! I don't understand this argument about missing a play or a goal. It states all over the sections about being obstructed so even a small flag in effect can cause someone to miss a goal,thus the big flags are not the true sticking point of that argument. Some people don't want any flags, two sticks or banners and that just is not going to happen and TFC is in concert with that. What makes me laugh more is how our sections are never even close to full at kick off so people are willing to come 15-20-30 minutes late and miss all that happens during that period but a mere 5 minutes blocked from flags is what gets them pissed. I don't get it. I have been between 114 and 115 since the early days and have been waiting like something like this to happen. The apathy and unwillingness to be a part of something from the top of 114 and 115 and last couple years 113 is incredible. People would rather throw out the "i've been her since day one argument or I have built friends so I am not gonna allow this new group to make me move because of flags argument. We are there to support the team in a tangible way, not stand because its the thing to do and enjoy the cheap season ticket prices and call ourselves supporters. On that note, most people in inebriatti HAVE been there since the beginning but it took this new group to get us together, so that argument has even less substance to it. Having said this I hope these fans can get relocated at the same price in the future because this group will only grow.

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    3. and yes the big flag was only waved for a maximum of 5 or 6 minutes not even ten as someone else mentioned. It seems that it is the status quo being changed in 114 that is bothering people more than the flags. Why be in the supporters section if you aren't going to sing(unless its the cheep ticket price)? It just makes no sense and 90 percent of the south end doesn't sing.

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  5. Flags for 90 minutes. It's not negotiable. There are 20k+ seats for you to have a non obstructed view. That is the compromise. We would never go into 123 and flag away.

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    1. Supporters should show respect for their fellow supporters. A flag wave here and there, and flag where you can move a few feet and not bother it, find. Flags during warm-up and during breaks in player, sure.

      People standing in the back row of 114 (let alone those standing closer) shouldn't be having their view blocked for much of the game.

      The failure for the newbies at the front of 114 to respect their fellow supporters is astonishing!

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    2. People in the supporters end shouldn't be expecting to see the whole match and then be incredulous when they can't.
      -Eli

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    3. We are not there to spectate, most of us check the game out later or see the replay if we miss a goal.

      There's plenty of seats to spectate from and its nonsense to think every single section should be just the way you like it when many people enjoy something else.

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  6. Well said. I think the folks who don't want to be near the flag waving should relocate to an area that's not designated for supporter groups. Simple as that.

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    1. The ones who have been there for 8 years just fine? Other supporters groups have flags, but they rarely wave them during play.

      This new bunch just seem to want to piss off everyone else more than anything else. They have no interest in working with their fellow supporters, and simply think they it's all about them.

      I suspect that the way this ends, is that this group spoils it for everyone, and that there will be a restriction on the length of flagpoles at all times.

      If only this group could learn how to work with the rest of the people in 114.

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    2. Half of Inebriatti has been there since day one just scattered throughout the south or with different groups but now we are together in a new group. That is an old argument. TFC loves what we are doing and if it bothers a couple people in 114 who are at the lowest price point for season tickets in the stadium(who if they relocate or leave all together they will be easily replaced with like minded individuals) I don't think the FO will care too much. This group is growing every year and next year will be much bigger.

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    3. Maybe you don't want to compromise with us? The pot may also be calling the kettle black just a little bit in this situation, no?
      -Eli

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  7. People who wave flags during a defensive corner deserve a punch in the dick. 114 is more concerned about looking cool on instagram than they are about the game.

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    1. Doesn't change the fact I'm right.

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    2. Good news, there will be relocation at year end and you can move to a space with a non obstructed view.

      You can watch the game. 114 can have 90 mins of flags.

      Win/win.

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    3. I mean some people are into punches in the dick. Yeoman, gonna back me up here?

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    4. Actually, in no fashion are you right... There's signs, warnings, common sense, etc all over the place warning of this, and you're whining.

      It's like the Bart hamster and the electric cup cake, you know it's there, but keep touching it, zapping yourself thinking next time may be different.

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    5. I thought Jdot was banned from BMO.

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    6. Six times actually.

      Each time the FO realised the accusations, lies and slander were false. Keyboard warriors making things up to destroy us.

      The product of those liars?

      Now we have great communication with the FO and the stadium is back on track to being the loudest in the MLS.

      Liars playing make believe never prosper.

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    7. I am supporter and love the flags, but have a brain on when to use them. half of you don't even watch the game, you just watch yourselves. Its quite entertaining in itself.

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    8. Yes, some of us don't watch the match because for us it's more important to have an incredible atmosphere for the players, not because "we watch ourselves" that's fucking stupid! The Capo and drummers in most countries don't get to watch the match because they lead the group. We get home and watch the match then, knowing we did 100% as the 12th man!

      Everyone who complains are the same assholes that hold a phone and beer for the entire match and are ashamed of clapping and singing, constantly looking around as if it's embarrassing to support the team.

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  8. I am a redpatch boy and u guys have been killing it this year. If you don't like it then u can get the Fuck out of supporting sections

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  9. Being one of those who's view is obstructed on occasion by these flags I can add very little that has not been said already through social media over the past 3 months. There are clearly strong opinions on both sides of the debate. We are all fully aware of the cost that comes with standing in the supporters section and have known for years that our view could possibly be obstructed. What I have also witnessed over the years is supporters groups dealing with similar issues as this and have watched as discussion and some compromise solved many small problems. I see no avenue for compromise here as Inebriatti have clearly stated that the flags are here to stay as they are part of their makeup and is necessary for them to be effective. If that is the case, so be it, but at least pay more attention to the game so that you get the full force of the flags when appropriate. Make sure you have all flags up when TFC gets a goal, make sure your group heckles opposition when they are in your corner for a corner kick, ...simple things that indicate you are paying some attention to what is happening on the pitch..I understand that you (Inebriatti) believe they are there to support the team and not to watch the game but some co-ordination would go along way for many to take you serious. I will continue to stand at the top of 115 and watch as this unfolds and hope it all settles down and we will continue to sing when we want, cheer when we want and enjoy watching (for the first time) a team that is competing and looking and playing like the team we have always wanted. That's all I can do.

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  10. Good on Inebriatti for bringing real atmosphere back into the supporters sections. I don't understand why people continue to bitch and complain about everything when they know darn well they're in a supporters section. If you don't want an obstructed view, there are thousands of other seats that are available to you.

    The other supporters groups in my opinion have gone stale, and are not fulfilling their original purpose to the effect that they could be. Inebriatti deserves kudos for trying new chants and bringing real spirit back into the supporters section.

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  11. This was the same "supporters group" that lit flares and smoked out our own keeper last week, saying that it was a good thing to do.

    That's not a supporters group. That's a bunch of self-adsorbed youngsters who don't know how to behave in the real world.

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    1. Smoke grenades. Not flares. There's a big difference. Dont' confuse the two.
      -Eli

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  12. Inebriatti are not going anywhere... so you can sit with us, sing, and get your view obstructed by flags, or you can get the fuck out... simple as that

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  13. to anonymous that wants to dick punch us for flags
    my name is Greg Yeoman. i sit in the front row of 114, seat 29. come find me. i have a dick punching fetish that you'll never understand. like seriously, i want you to come do it. it's so hard to jerk off when the only way you can get an erection, is from a guy punching you in the dick first. which is weird. because i'm straight. but please help

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  14. Wannabe's. End of.

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  15. The first couple of years there were no BIG FLAGS interfering with the enjoyment of the game.
    I've seen this group grow and move around and now throw up these flags at the most inopportune times, like corner kicks or general play in our end.

    I've also been in my seat since the first game so why is that small group anymore important than the other 30,000 fans in attendance?

    All the other supporters groups (which are just as passionate by the way) seem to have a greater respect for the game, the play on the pitch, and their fellow footy fans!

    SO its not about what the sign says, or what a supporter group can get away with... Its what about what a decent human being should do in respect for others. Keep that in mind when your handing out snide remarks.

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