CFL follows NFL sets 85 percent vaccine threshold, teams face forfeits and players lost wages

The Canadian Football League has followed the lead of the NFL.

According to sources, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie sent a memo to club presidents outlining the league mandated procedures for teams who happen to have a COVID-19 outbreak without meeting the newly-set 85 percent vaccination rate within each franchise.

Any team that is under the threshold and is unable to play in a given week due to an outbreak would be forced to forfeit and have a loss applied while the opposing team would be credited with a win — plus players would not be paid. Athletes receive cheques every game week in the CFL, no play, no pay.

Teams at or over the 85 percent mark won’t face any financial discipline or ramifications. There are three franchises who have met the league mandated standard to date. Other clubs are worried that being under the threshold puts them at a competitive disadvantage.

That’s a main reason why teams, according to sources, are looking to sign fully vaccinated free agents if injuries occur.

The Delta variant spreads faster than any other strain of the coronavirus according to health experts and the league wants to protect the investment of bringing players into training camps to start the 2021 CFL season.

The league and players’ association agreed to a number of amendments to the collective bargaining agreement for the 2021 season. That included the CFL guaranteeing a minimum 10-game regular season and a post-season under the following conditions:

(i) – each stadium where games are scheduled to be player are allowed a minimum of 35% allowed capacity of fan attendance, (ii) – there is no outbreak of COVID that prevents the full schedule of games being played, and (iii) – there is no decision by any public health authority that prevents the full schedule of games being played.

As the CFL kicks off its currently planned 14-game schedule on Thursday, the league wants to give itself the best possible chances to complete the entire slate of games and play the Grey Cup in December.

Across the country, over 60 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated and more than 72 percent of citizens have one dose.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.