CFL vows to improve officiating

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

CFL officials missed Hamilton's DeVonte Peterson clotheslining Winnipeg's Keith Stokes illegally in one game last season.

They also missed an onside player on an open-field punt in a game between Calgary and B.C. Both plays spelled the difference between winning and losing those matches.

"Last year, we had some humdingers," CFL director of officiating George Black said during a teleconference call yesterday. "If we could have had 12 plays over again, it would have been a very successful season.

"We're not perfect but really, we were very good most of the time. In this business, everyone expects you to be perfect, then get better."

The dozen blunders occurred among the 15,000 plays in 95 games, he added.

To improve its officiating, the CFL will spend about $150,000 more on the recruitment and development of officials this season. That will include flying them in earlier for games to spend more time on game preparation. That will also mean an increase in pay from the $500-$800 per game that they now get.

The number of officials has been increased to 46 from 35 and fixed crews will be used to handle the first 36 games. Three prospects will work until Labour Day, then return to the CIS. Eight other prospects will be groomed in June and July before returning to college or junior football.

The CFL will continue to experiment with instant replay but it will not be introduced this season. That allows the league to spend more cash on the refs. However, even without instant replay, on-field officials will not ask for any help from game-day officials in the press box to avoid such controversies as the Stokes miss-call -- despite the fact it was so obvious to press-box observers.

"I don't think anyone in the press box overruling our calls on the field will help," Black objected.

Officials also met with CFL coaches to establish standards for making judgement calls on holding, illegal blocks on kick returns, roughing the passer, illegal contact with receivers and pass interference.

The CFL will test instant replay during the exhibition game between Toronto and Hamilton to be held in Halifax on June 11, with the hopes that it will be implemented for the 2006 season, said Shawn Coates, the CFL's director of football operations.

To introduce instant replay, the CFL must work out an agreement with its broadcasters to use their cameras during the games they televise.

"For instant replay to be successful, all of our games need to be televised and our broadcast partners are willing to do that," Coates said.

Winnipeg's Neil Payne, a former CFL director of officiating, designed the instant replay box that will be used.


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