Mayor Rob Ford’s crude and sexually explicit statement to reporters this morning has upset the Toronto Argonauts, as the chief magistrate delivered his remarks while wearing a team jersey.
Ford’s behaviour in public life has become increasingly unpredictable, in the face of revelations that he has smoked crack cocaine while in office, got drunk in public, been videotaped under bizarre circumstances and been followed by Toronto police as part of an investigation.
And when a court allowed for additional information to be released about that investigation, it was made public yesterday that police had been told that Ford had made alleged comments about oral sex that were aimed at a staff member.
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Today, Ford, while wearing a navy Toronto Argonauts jersey, shocked reporters by angrily refuting some of those claims in language that is normally not able to be aired on television:
The woman "said I wanted to eat her p—y," Ford said before cameras.
"I’ve never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I'm happily married. I've got more than enough to eat at home."
The mayor has also threatened legal action against other staff members for separate allegations made to police.
The Argos soon issued a press release calling out the mayor, whom they described as "a big fan and supporter of the game of football," for his remarks.
"The Toronto Argonauts organization is not in a position to comment on the manner of dress of public officials," the team said near the start of its statement.
But the team had something to say about what the mayor was saying when wearing their jersey.
"The situation with respect to the Mayor and his leadership is unseemly at best," the statement continued.
"These latest remarks, while wearing our team's jersey, are particularly disappointing given our organization's work in the community to help youth deal with issues of bullying prevention. We hope for the benefit of the wonderful citizens of Toronto and this great city that this situation is resolved expeditiously."
In the early afternoon, Ford briefly spoke to the media "to apologize for my graphic remarks this morning." This time, he was not wearing an Argonauts jersey, though he was wearing a football-print tie. The mayor was standing alongside his wife, who did not speak to the media.
The Argos are set to play the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Eastern Final this Sunday in Toronto.
Ford and football
Ford’s love of football is well known to the public and has been at the centre of prior controversies he has faced in office.
The mayor previously coached a high-school football team at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School. But Ford was criticized for his intensive involvement in coaching, which some suggested was a potential distraction from his responsibilities as mayor.
The school board announced earlier this year that they were seeking a new coach for the Don Bosco team, after they reviewed comments the mayor had made during a television interview.
Last year, Ford faced a conflict-of-interest challenge that nearly forced him from office.
A judge ordered him removed, but the mayor won a subsequent appeal and hung onto his job.
The conflict issue was raised after a council vote the mayor took part in, which related to his efforts to raise money for his private football foundation.
Ford, 44, is just three years into his mandate as mayor. He still has another year to go and has said he will seek re-election.
With files from The Canadian Press