Sportsnet Road Trip: Behind enemy MLS lines in Columbus, Ohio

When Toronto FC fans visited Columbus for a game in 2009, things got tense. (Jay LaPrete/AP Photo)

“JUST MAKE ONE move. I’d love to shoot this into you.” Those were the words a police officer whispered into the ear of soccer fan Duane Rollins as she held a Taser against his back.

Rollins had made the seven-hour road trip to watch his beloved Toronto FC take on their most-hated rivals, the Columbus Crew, in 2009. More than 2,000 TFC fans made the pilgrimage, and there was camaraderie between the two sets of supporters in the parking lot before the game. The Crew took an early lead, but Toronto nicked a late goal to earn the 1–1 draw. When the Reds scored, flares and smoke bombs were set off in the TFC fan section. Seats were damaged and part of a railing was tossed onto spectators in a lower level. After the game, security funnelled TFC fans down a staircase to the parking lot, where roughly 50 Crew fans were waiting for them. Shouting and shoving ensued.

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The police were called in, and squad cars streaked through the parking lot. A helicopter circled. But Rollins insists the trouble hardly rose to a riotous level, and that the overreaction of the police only made the situation worse. Rollins pulled out his phone to document what he felt was mistreatment of Toronto fans. That’s when the officer told him to stop filming and jammed a Taser in his back.

In the end, only a few arrests were made, and Rollins drove back to Toronto—his getaway weekend ruined, but lucky not to have been hurt.

This story originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Sportsnet magazine.