Part One: The Tragedy of Toronto FC

How the mismanagement of Toronto FC has doomed the club; turning the angry TFC supporter into an apathetic one
by Sonja Missio   |   Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Red Dawn Rising - column on Toronto FC (TFC) & the Toronto Ontario soccer scene

This article is not written in anger.

No, the anger has long since past. Now only apathy and the lingering remnants of sadness resonate; it is the bittersweet numbness that can only be felt after the fall of an empire.

Of course, Toronto FC is not an empire, but it could have been and that’s what makes the fall even worse. TFC could have been a team that was bolstered with greatness, respect and pride, instead of the submissive, unyielding and feeble motley crew it has become.

However, the tragedy of Toronto FC is not what it has become – a mismanaged club that has blotched every chance handed to them – but rather what it could have been: an experiment of a major sports team that got everything perfectly right.

I want to look at what happened to Toronto FC. How a club that was once so allied with their supporters now appears to be completely disconnected; how a club slated for greatness became one of indifference. 

You see, Toronto FC has always had the ideal formula to become a successful club.

Playing in the opposite season of the Maple Leafs and Raptors, with games more sporadically placed than the Blue Jays, TFC became the go-to sport in Toronto. Home games were constantly sold out, season tickets had wait lists that stretched for years, and Toronto finally had a team that did not see the majority of spectators in suits. 

Rather, it had a “next generation” younger fan base; those who grew up watching their father’s team and yearned to carve out a soccer identity of their own.

Young kids enrolled in soccer teams, young professionals with disposable funds and young-at-hearts who wanted to watch a good match over a couple of overpriced beers came in droves to BMO Field.

Early TFC supporters came as ready-made fans who wanted a team as much as TFC needed a following; the club could not have designed a better foundation to become a successful and lucrative enterprise.  

The supporters became the backbone of the club, not only as the 12th man, but arguably the 11th or 10th; TFC became more well known for the faces in the stands than those on the pitch.

When it came down to it, Toronto FC’s early success was based on unwavering loyalty, and not performance on the pitch. However, now that allegiance is starting to reflect the performance: tired, beaten down and mishandled by those who once had the ability to push the club into further greatness.    

It’s a misconception that TFC’s failing is due to poor performance on the pitch; rather it is about constant bad management in the offices. Toronto’s failing is taking the original fans for granted, resulting in the growing lack of mutual respect between the club and those supporters still enduring.

Yes, Toronto FC has tried to appeal to fans and win them back, but the club’s quick-fix solutions – such as lowered season ticket prices – constantly miss the mark of the bigger issues of contempt. TFC management acknowledges the hostility between the club and supporters, however the staff has (so far) only had feeble attempts at peace offers to their now disjointed fan base.

Ironically, these attempts seem to be just alienating fans even more.

For example, the team calls press conference after press conference, special announcement after special announcement in an attempt to reengage fans; unfortunately, these overzealous efforts have just become on-going nuisances instead.

Once there was a time where TFC fans (myself included) would continuously hit refresh on Twitter to hear news. Now news feeds are quickly scrolled through to avoid the headache (and heartache) that comes with just another “major announcement” – usually a traded player or an on-loan-acquisition of an aging EPL’er.

Most supporters are unable to name the current squad completely; in fact, there’s a good chance it will change by the time this article gets published. It has come to the point where no news has become good news. There is massive fan fatigue, and there is only so much more they can take.

The response is no longer aggravation from the supporters; instead, it has turned into apathy. Long gone are the days of the paperbag protesters; now even that seems like too much effort to muster.

As I stated at the beginning, this article is not written in anger, though I wish it had been. I originally thought this article would have me mashing my keyboard in rage. But instead I’m lazily plucking at the keys, one by one, while I absent mindedly think about buying Franz Ferdinand tickets. And apathy is a million times worse than anger.

Toronto FC: your fans aren’t angry. They just no longer give a damn.

NEXT UP: July 17 – Toronto FC vs. Chivas USA, StubHub Center, Carson, Calif. 10:30 p.m. EST, MLS Live.


Univ. of Guelph, Univ. of W. Ontario, Brock University
Club Domestic:
Toronto FC
Club Foreign:
Supported Udinese since birth, TFC was her own stupid decision; writing on her masochistic relationship with soccer started after. Doomed as a Canadian - Friulano - Swiss - Filipina. Searching for Juventini actually from Turin and running for FIFA Prez.