October 24, 2007 CSL Serbian White Eagles vs Toronto Croatia Finals pre-game story (from Toronto Sun)

Wed, October 24, 2007

Ethnic tension divides CSL final

Worried about the potential for violence between Toronto's Croatian and Serbian communities, this weekend's Canadian Soccer League championship will be a two-game affair.

But a CSL official admits there are "loopholes" in the league's plan to bar Serbians from attending Game 1 Saturday at Esther Shriner Stadium, and Croatians from attending Game 2 Sunday at the same North York soccer field.

CSL executive director Stan Adamson said the league tried to rent BMO Stadium for a one-game showdown between finalists Toronto Croatia and the Serbian White Eagles. The Croatian fans could have been ushered to one side of the field, the Serbians to the other.

But BMO was unavailable for a game that was expected to draw 6,000 fans.

"There isn't another community stadium that can accommodate that many fans safely, and safety is the key word," Adamson continued. "We realize it's too dangerous to bring these two communities together (in a smaller facility)."


Adamson said there were several incidents during the season between fans of the two teams, including flares tossed at the goal lines and disputes in the stands and parking lots.

Adamson said CSL officials conferred with Toronto cops before deciding on a two-game, total-goal final.

Adamson said tickets for Saturday's game would be available only through Toronto Croatia (905-828-9191) while the Serbian White Eagles are in charge of Sunday's seat sales (416-252-4762).

"We realize there are still loopholes -- a Croatian fan could get his (non-Croatian) friend to buy tickets," Adamson said. "But the clubs are pretty careful. I know the Toronto Croatians can spot a Serbian from a mile away."

The Serbian fans-only game is Sunday at 3 p.m. while the Croatian game is tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $25.

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