According to Catholic school board documents, the mayor turned up drunk for practice, threatened a teacher, and forced players to roll in goose droppings.
When Mayor Rob Ford was banned in May from coaching football at any Catholic school in the city, the decision seemed to stem from comments he’d made months earlier in which he said, among other things, that many of his players “come from gangs” and live in “broken homes”—but more than 300 pages of documents from the Catholic school board indicate that there is much more to the story.
Reports published today in the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail reveal some of the content of those documents, obtained through freedom-of-information requests, including allegations that Ford was profane, threatening, and sometimes inebriated during his time volunteering with the Don Bosco Eagles, the high school team he coached for 11 years. Ford has often adduced his involvement with the team—which he established with thousands of dollars of his own money—as evidence of his concern for and support of disadvantaged youth.
Here are a few of the allegations against the mayor:
That he held unauthorized practices, during which several players were injured
In August 2012, Ford violated regulations of both Don Bosco and the provincial athletic association by conducting practices before the school year began. The mayor claimed that the practices were aimed at improving his team’s conditioning, consisting only of running, although the Star reports that “a tackling sled was visible in news clips of the practices.” One player broke his collarbone during the unauthorized practices; according to the TCDSB documents, “several other students also sustained minor injuries.”
That he threatened to beat up a teacher
Don Bosco teacher John Royiwsky left a note on the changing room door on Aug. 28, 2012, informing players that there would be no practice that day, although Ford had scheduled one. According to principal Ugo Rossi, the mayor subsequently challenged Royiwsky to a fight, telling him, “I will kick your ass” and calling him a “pussy.” Ford also stated, “I run this program, not you.”
That he offered custodians cash to keep the school open longer in the summer
In the summer months, custodians close Don Bosco at 4 p.m., but during the week of the unauthorized practices, Ford refused to leave on time. According to the documents, he offered them cash to keep the school open an hour later.
That he forced his players to roll around in goose droppings
In October 2012, Don Bosco won a game against Father Henry Carr, but Ford was nevertheless displeased with his team’s performance. Rowisky alleges in the TCDSB documents that Ford called his players “cocksuckers” and made them roll in the grass, which was littered with goose scat. In the Star report, former Don Bosco kicker Sergio Meza refutes the allegation: he says the event took place, but denies that the mayor compelled them to participate. “He told us if you don’t want to do it you could leave,” Meza said in a Facebook message, “but no one chose to leave and no one was forced to roll. We chose to do it.”
That he was inebriated at a practice
Both the Star and the Globe report that Ford was “visibly inebriated” when he showed up late to practice on the night before the Metro Bowl championship. “During the post-practice meeting with coaches and organizers the mayor is incoherent,” Rossi says, according to the TCDSB documents.
That he delayed mandatory criminal background checks
According to the Star, “Ford ‘disregarded’ [Rossi’s] requests for police checks”; Rossi reminded Ford on Aug. 31, 2012, that background checks are mandatory for all coaches. A staffer was then dispatched to rush the paperwork through Police Chief Bill Blair, who signed a letter that was delivered to Ford’s home indicating that he had passed the check. The violent criminal past of assistant coach Payman Aboodowleh, whom Ford chose to work for team, was not discovered during the checking process, because Aboodowleh gave police an altered spelling of his name.