'They're not messing around': CFL pushing for players to get vaccinated with new COVID-19 policies
REGINA -- The Canadian Football League (CFL) announced new policies to encourage its players to get vaccinated, which include the possibility of forfeits and loss of pay if games are missed due to COVID-19.
The policy states if a game has to be cancelled and can't be rescheduled, the team with COVID-19 issues will be assigned a loss. If both clubs have COVID-19 issues, both will forfeit the game and be assigned a loss.
“Our goal is to ensure we have zero game cancellations due to issues caused by an outbreak of COVID-19 within our football operations,” Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the CFL, said in a news release.
“While this policy spells out what will happen if cancellations do occur, its main purpose is to encourage all of our players to get fully vaccinated in order to minimize the risk to our season and, most importantly, their health and safety.”
Players will receive their salary for the cancelled game if a team can prove that 85 percent of its players have been vaccinated at least once. If the club falls below that threshold, the entire team will not be paid.
Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, said the team is not one of three in the league with an 85 per cent vaccination rate.
“We’re going to be there soon,” he said. “They’re not messing around.”
Dickenson added that the potential financial losses will likely spur more players to get the shot.
“I think you’ll see the teams that maybe aren’t there, they’ll get there relatively fast when players start to see that financially they could take a pretty big hit if we’re not at 85. I think you’re going to see a lot of guys get the shot,” he said.
“We’ve tried to be very open-minded and very understanding of those that maybe for some reason or another don’t want to get vaccinated, but we want to encourage them.”
Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo said he has already been vaccinated.
“I got it because I believe it’ll help me stay healthy and not miss games, and to put myself in a situation to play all 14 games this year,” Fajardo said. “It was a no-brainer for me, and I’m glad we’re just talking about CFL football again and not going through ‘are we going to play or not going to play?’”
The league administered approximately 6,000 COVID-19 tests to players, coaches and support staff from July 15 to the end of training camp on Friday. None of them came back positive.
The CFL season kicks off Thursday night, with the Roughriders’ home opener scheduled for Friday against the B.C. Lions.