The CFL has suspended Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Will Hill for grabbing the jersey of an official during the team’s loss to Saskatchewan last Saturday.
Hill was was also issued a fine for punching a Saskatchewan player in a separate incident on the same play.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement:
“It is a fundamental principle in all of sport: you cannot and must not lay your hands on an official. Just as officials are integral to the integrity of competition, respect for officials is essential to proper behaviour in the arena of competition. I acknowledge that in this case, the player involved appeared to quickly realize the inappropriateness of his actions, and released the official. But that does not erase the fact that the player crossed a line that should never be crossed in sport at any level, and which certainly should be respected in an elite professional league such as the Canadian Football League. Furthermore, by punching an opponent, this player has not only displayed the opposite of sportsmanship, he has undermined the commitment to player health and safety that must be shared by the league and its players alike. Just as Player Safety is critical to our game, so too is the safety of our officials. I’m committed to developing a policy in the very near term to improve and codify the safety standards to further protect our officials.”
The suspension is to be served immediately and the Ticats are set to play the B.C. Lions this Saturday. But if the CFL Players’ Association appeals the suspension – and they most likely will – the suspension would not be imposed until a review by an independent arbitrator.