Winnipeg football fans swear, pour beer on boy for wearing Rider green at Banjo Bowl
Blue Bombers CFL club calls incident 'extremely disappointing'
A Winnipeg mother is angry after Blue Bomber fans lashed out and poured beer on her nine-year-old son for wearing a green sweater to the weekend Banjo Bowl against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Janelle-Marie Emond was excited to take her son to their first game at Investors Group Field after she received tickets from a friend.
"We were in the fanatical section I guess, where fans are really outrageous and loud," Emond said.
The Blue Bombers beat the Roughriders 17-10 on Saturday afternoon, but Emond said fans were anything but cheerful toward her son, who was wearing a green sweater because he was cold.
"It was a green Billabong sweater and he was wearing a Bomber T-shirt underneath, that you could clearly see," Emond said.
"These two girls in the concourse looked at me, and they looked at my son and they're like yelling, 'You're a Riders fan, you suck, go back to where you came from!' and the girl took a beer and poured it over top of my son's head," Emond said.
"I looked at her and I'm like, 'Are you kidding me?' I yelled, 'He's nine years old!' and she's like, 'Well he's wearing green!'" Emond said, adding it didn't end there.
She said there were many intoxicated fans who began yelling at them as they tried to leave the stadium.
"Just before we got to the gates, there's these two girls and guy and they're singing 'you stink,' and 'go back to Riderville. You need to pick a team if you're going to be here!'"
Emond said her son was crying and there were no security staff around to help.
She said more Bomber fans started swearing and yelling at her son as they made their way out of the stadium.
"There's these guys who were screaming, 'One and 10, one and 10,' and they're getting in my face and my son is freaking out."
Football club responds
Bombers management was made aware of the incident and immediately contacted Emond to express disappointment and atone for the fans' behaviour, a statement from the football club to CBC said.
"Our president and CEO spoke with the mother this morning," the statement said, noting the organization also delivered a package from the Bomber Store to the family.
A team official also stopped by her home and dropped off complimentary tickets to four future games as well as two Bomber shirts and a special Blue Bomber coin.
"[We are] working to bring them back to a game as our guests to show them a much better experience, including a post-game meeting with Bomber players. We consistently strive to provide all of our great fans the best game day experience possible, and incidents like these are extremely disappointing and do not represent the majority of our fan base."
In 2010, the football club said it would work closely with police to reduce liquor-fuelled incidents at CFL games.
However, Emond's experience suggests more work needs to be done — even outside the stadium.
Verbal attacks get nasty
After Emond and her son finally left Investors Group Field, the abuse continued in the parking lot near the tailgating area.
Emond said a man in his 50s was throwing a football and the ball landed close to her son, and that's when she said the man started insulting her.
"Then he started saying like super mean things about me being large and he said, 'Why don't you go on the weight training, go train with the Riders and maybe they'll play better next time!'
"And then my son yells back, 'We live here!' and I was so proud of him for screaming that," Emond said.
Some Roughrider fans saw the incident in the parking lot and stepped in to help.
Emond said a woman gave her son a hug and she said it calmed him down, adding she wished she knew the woman's name so she could send her a note to thank her.
Emond was so upset that she posted a rant about her experience on her Facebook page and contacted the football club.
She said she was blown away by the club's quick and generous response.
"I was totally flabbergasted, amazed and grateful," Emond said.
"I didn't expect gifts. I wasn't asking for that. I just wanted my story to be heard."