Junior football league suspends Cougars for part in brawl

The following was released by Doug Dittmer, President of the Ontario Football Conference:

The Ontario Football Conference deeply regrets the events that took place in Hamilton on Saturday night, Oct. 16, 2010. On behalf of all of our members we want to offer our sincerest apology to OFC/CJFL fans everywhere. No one can condone the level of violence witnessed. There is a need to institute means and safeguards to improve the safety of players and fans alike to ensure that an incident like this never occurs again.

The penalties issued today deal only with one aspect of this incident – that of player misconduct. The actions of the players involved betrayed the sportsmanship and self-control that should be expected from OFC athletes. Clearly at that combustible moment the involved athletes did not represent their community. The OFC will strive to portray the best that can be offered by amateur sports, and not allow our sport to be diminished by this type of behaviour.

There are other issues that the OFC must also focus on at this time. First, we must redefine the bounds of acceptable conduct for fans attending our games. Participants in and around the field must be protected from unacceptable fan behaviour. Second, we must re-examine the adequacy of our current security procedures in all seven of our cities. The actions at Saturday’s game, though unprecedented, must now be included into our efforts to guarantee the well-being of our fans. Third, we must develop and implement new OFC rules to assure that confrontations that can occur in the heat of competition are not allowed to escalate to the level we witnessed on Saturday.

The OFC Disciplinary Committee has released its report from the incident that occurred during the playing of the semi final game on Saturday, Oct. 16 at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton.

The committee has reviewed the game tapes from different sources and has interviewed many witnesses who were at the game. The report from the referee and other officials of the game was considered in making this decision. There were many parties involved in this incident and the Disciplinary Committee wanted to make sure that all were heard from and that all the available information had been gathered before a decision was rendered.

The Disciplinary Committee has suspended 23 players from the St. Leonard Cougars. Six of the 23 have been suspended indefinitely effective Oct. 22, 2010. Of this group of six players three were eligible for CJFL national awards and their nominations have been withdrawn. Of the remaining 17 players the suspensions were of a minimum of 2 games.

The head coach of the St. Leonard Cougars has also been suspended for two games.

The Hamilton Hurricanes and the St. Leonard Cougars teams have been fined the maximal permissible under our bylaws for their part in the incident.

The league has absolutely zero tolerance for this behavior. The Ontario Football Conference has operated for over a half century without similar incidences because we have strong rules. Football as a sport demands the highest conduct – thus although these are amateur athletes we expect them to behave in a professional manner. The OFC Disciplinary Committee will bring forward recommendations to the League regards the necessary rule changes to further ensure the safety of our athletes and fans in the immediate future.