The CFL’s 108th Grey Cup kicks off this Sunday, but football remains an afterthought to many.
That’s because Canada’s professional football league is still dealing with the repercussions of an ugly fan–player incident. The event occurred on Dec. 5 at the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats match during the East Division Final. Ticats fans and Argos players clashed in a physical and verbal confrontation following the game.
A video widely circulated on social media pushed the league into the mainstream spotlight for the first time in years. Many lamented the publicity coming at such a cost.
“The altercation itself, I don’t know all the details on. I’m not qualified to give you an opinion. But anytime we have an interaction between players and fans, it’s very disappointing,” said Pinball Clemens, Argos general manager.
CFL, Police investigate as suspensions handed out
Argos executive John Murphy is the first party to be tagged.
After uncovering several physical altercations, the team suspended its vice-president of player personnel indefinitely. In one, he appears to initiate contact with a hostile fan behind the barricade by taking a swipe at his face.
In a separate incident, it’s clear Argos player Chris Edwards (No.6) exchanges punches with a Ticat fan dawning a cape.
Meanwhile, Dejon Brissett (No.18) pushes the fan away as he charges at Edwards. Security intervened before further escalation.
It is alleged a fan set off the chain of events by spitting his beer in an Argos player’s face – although that remains unconfirmed. However, what is certain is that on Dec.6, Toronto Police released a statement stating “two men allegedly jumped a barricade and were attempting to fight with players.”
Both trespassers were required to leave immediately and were issued a provincial ticket from BMO Field – where the game took place.
The CFL, Argos and Toronto Police have all reiterated their investigation continues.
Tiger-Cats vs. Blue Bombers provides rematch of 2019 finals
Before the scuffle, the Ticats were victorious with a 27 – 19 win over the Argos.
That’s created an intriguing storyline for the Grey Cup as Hamilton will take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the trophy game. The match is a replay of the 2019 Grey Cup – the last time the league had a final.
Winnipeg convincingly took that win via a 33 – 12 blowout win at McMahon Stadium. But now the tables have turned.
Hamilton will host this year’s showdown at Tim Hortons Field. Yet despite the home-field advantage, the Blue Bombers will be a formidable opponent.
They are coming off a CFL-best 11-3 record. Two of those losses came after the club had clinched first place in the West Division.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is coming in hot despite an 8-6 regular-season record. The team has won six of its last seven games.
CFL rebrands league following pandemic
The 2021 CFL season has been a year of rebirth in many ways.
It is the first season since 2019 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. But it has also been a season of rebranding and repositioning in the Canadian sports landscape.
In the summertime, commissioner Randy Ambrosie was busy advocating for the legalization of single-game sports betting. He banded together with the other noted North American sports commissioners in a joint letter to the federal government.
When Bill C-218 cleared Senate on June 22, Ambrosie got to work quickly.
Consider just a little over a month later, the league agreed to a multi-year partnership with online sportsbooks and casino, BetRegal. The move is considered a vital economic tool for the struggling league who reportedly lost $60 -$80 million in 2020.
The Grey Cup kicks off on Sunday at 6 pm eastern time.