Rob Ford appeared to soak up his celebrity status at a CFL game Sunday afternoon — an event the Canadian Football League had hoped he would not attend.
The mayor of Toronto arrived at Rogers Centre toward the end of half-time. The Toronto Argonauts had been in the lead before his arrival but went on to lose the East Division Final to the Hamilton Tiger Cats 36-24.
Toronto police officers and security officials stood guard around the row around the mayor’s seat. They worked to clear him a path though at times were overwhelmed by crowds hoping for a picture with Ford.
More than a hundred people surrounded the mayor shouting, cheering and jeering. Ford turned his head back to look at the person calling him “a piece of garbage,” while another young fan shouted, “Mayor Ford, I love you.”
Ford stopped several times for pictures even as police officers physically hauled men and women away from his side.
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon had told the Toronto Star that he wanted the mayor to focus on his own challenges and not take attention away from the game. Although Ford was not invited in any official capacity, he arrived sporting a number 12 Argos jersey. As he made his way to his seat, he exchanged high fives, shook hands and paused for pictures. Ti-Cats fans could be heard chanting, “Argos are whack, the mayor smokes crack.”
One football fan tweeted that more people in the mayor’s vicinity were paying attention to Ford than the game.
Outside the stadium after the game, the mayor gave a final thumbs up before stepping into an awaiting Escalade.
Ford recently admitted to smoking crack cocaine and to purchasing illegal drugs in the past two years. On Friday, Toronto City Council stripped him of some of his mayoral powers after he insisted he would not resign or take a leave of absence. His confessions and sexually lewd comments have been the target of jokes from late-night talk-show hosts including Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel.
A police-surveillance document alleges the mayor may have also consorted with prostitutes and made sexually inappropriate comments to a former female staffer. During a press conference last week when he wore his Argos jersey, Ford denied the allegations before amplifying the situation.
The Argos later issued a statement to distance themselves from the mayor.