CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie urges respect for officials following high-profile attack of football referee in Quebec

Photo: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie is reminding fans to treat the referees with a little extra respect ahead of the CFL playoffs and extend that to officials at all levels of sport, after a referee was assaulted at a Quebec football game last week.

The game between the Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe Lauréats and the Noir et Or de Salaberry-de-Valleyfield had to be called partway through last Saturday after an angry parent came down to field level and attacked an official. Two men were later arrested and released.

The commissioner’s full statement can be viewed below.

As CFL officials prepare for some of the biggest games of their careers, with our playoffs set to start on Sunday, I have been reflecting on the important role they play. In fact, I have been thinking a lot about officials at all levels, in all sports, following the recent physical attack on an amateur football official at a cégep game in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.

​Disagreeing with an official’s call is part of the game, for coaches, players and fans. But disrespecting an official is totally unacceptable, abusing an official is an abuse of the game, and an attack on any official in any sport is an attack on sport itself. A shortage of officials is a growing problem, particularly in amateur football. Recruitment and retention become even more difficult when people see the treatment too many officials face on a regular basis. We can all help tackle this problem, strengthen the game, by treating officials with respect and, dare I say, gratitude.

​Like the other CFL teams that will take the field in Montreal and Vancouver on Sunday, our officials have reached the pinnacle of their vocation, having earned their way onto a professional playing field. They have dedicated years, sometimes a lifetime, to this incredibly difficult job, running a lightning fast game with complex rules, and running with world class athletes. Football officials at every level are essential to the game we love. Let’s hold them to a high standard, but let’s also elevate how we treat them, whether we are attending our kid’s game at the local park, or watching some of the best in the world, officiating our playoffs and Grey Cup.

The CFL playoffs kick off with the East Semi-Final on Sunday, November 6 when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will visit the Montreal Alouettes at 1:00 p.m. EDT. The B.C. Lions will later host the Calgary Stampeders in the West Semi-Final at 4:30 p.m. EDT.