CFL, CFLPA pledge to strengthen racism policy as Marino apologizes to Masoli

CFL balls are photographed at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium in Winnipeg Thursday, May 24, 2018. (John Woods/CP)

The CFL and CFLPA said in a joint statement they will urgently work to strengthen and clarify their joint policy on racism and racial discrimination.

"The CFL and the CFLPA are jointly committed to a policy of zero tolerance of any form of racism or racial discrimination and signified their commitment in writing during the last round of collective bargaining," the statement reads.

"We have agreed to strengthen our commitment with urgency by agreeing to further define and agree on all issues arising from that joint commitment so both the CFL and CFLPA – and through them the entire professional Canadian football community – will have clarity and certainty moving forward."

The league's handling of cases of racial discrimination has come under the microscope following an incident between Roughriders lineman Garrett Marino and Redblacks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli in a game last week, when Masoli suffered a serious leg injury on a hit from Marino and had to be carted off the field. Marino was ejected from the game but could be seen taunting Masoli before returning to the locker room.

The CFL later suspended Marino four games — including one game specifically "for verbal comments Marino made about Masoli’s heritage during the game, which clearly violates our Code of Conduct."

After the suspension was announced, Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson said that he didn't think Marino was a racist and that that part of the suspension "may be a bit of a reach."

Masoli responded to the suspension and Dickenson's comment with his own statement.

"It’s sad that the hate and racist attitudes and racial insults are going to be punished with a slap on the wrist," Masoli wrote. "One game for racist insults is simply not enough in my opinion and hopefully, we can use this to promote growth and change for the better. We need to protect the integrity of the game."

The Roughriders issued an apology to Masoli and the Redblacks on Wednesday, saying they will make a donation in the quarterback's name to the Redblacks Mentorship Program.

"The comments and actions of Garrett Marino on July 8th do not represent who we are as an organization or the work we do in the Saskatchewan community," the statement reads.

The Roughriders also shared a statement from Marino, who confirmed he will not be appealing his suspension and apologized to Masoli and Redblacks.

"I want to apologize for my actions that day, as I understand that they have no place in the game of football," Marino's statement reads. "Regarding the comments I made during the game, I regret that I said them, as I now understand their consequences."

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