Raiders call on CJFL exec to resign after controversial Facebook post

By Dominic Abassi
May 14, 2018 - 6:01pm Updated: May 14, 2018 - 6:37pm

This post, now deleted, is drawing widespread criticism and calls for the CJFL to take action against its deputy commissioner.Facebook

NANAIMO — The VI Raiders are calling on the Canadian Junior Football League to take action after a controversial Facebook post from a high-ranking executive made national headlines.

Raiders president Kabel Atwall told NanaimoNewsNOW the team felt CJFL deputy commissioner Todd Wilson should resign over his post from a Winnipeg Jets game on Saturday.

The post was a picture of a man who appears to be black selling beer in the crowd at the Jets game against Vegas on May 12. The caption reads: "Two night ago he was in game 7. Tonight PK Suban (sic) is selling me beer."

Subban, who is black, was knocked out of the NHL playoffs when his Nashville Predators were eliminated by the Jets.

Wilson removed the post following the game and resigned from his role as president of the Winnipeg Rifles, a member of the CJFL's prairie conference. The Rifles quickly distanced themselves from Wilson, calling the post "offensive and totally unacceptable."

"The offensive posting is so out of step with the Rifles and what we’ve always worked so hard to instill in young athletes," a statement from the team said.

However, despite what appears to be widespread outrage from teams, players and volunteers across the league, the CJFL has yet to take such swift action.

The league issued a statement late Sunday night, saying the post was "insensitive" and not consistent with the CJFL's values.

When asked why the league did not suspend Wilson or take any further action, commissioner Jim Pankovich told NanaimoNewsNOW the matter would be discussed during a Monday night teleconference.

"One part was I was away on the weekend. We're just trying to get some information on this. We'll move forward on this as quickly as possible and take everything into consideration."

Raiders head coach Doug Hocking said the post caught him by surprise.

"I took offense to it as a member of the CJFL and the BCFC. There's no room for that kind of stuff anywhere, let alone in our league. I took a lot of offense," Hocking said.

He applauded the Rifles for their quick action on the issue, saying the ball is now in the CJFL's court.

"The rest of Canada, by the sounds of it, is watching how they handle this. I think it should've been handled swiftly and immediately."

Meanwhile, Wilson appears to be striking a different tone in internal communications than that of his apologetic tone in public statements.

In an email obtained by NanaimoNewsNOW, Wilson said the post "received many likes and positive comments," but some people read it as more than a poor attempt at humour.

"Some people with an axe to grind on other issues, continued to post screen shots of the post on social media and for some reason decided to link that personal post to the Rifles organization," Wilson's emailed resignation said. "I think the fastest way to let this die is for me to resign as president."

The story has since been picked up by the Canadian Press, CBC, CTV and Global, marking an unwanted public display for a league which often struggles to get media attention.

On Monday, True North Sports and Entertainment, owner of the Jets and their home rink, issued a statement saying they were investigating the "insensitive comments" directed at one of their employees and the comments will not be tolerated.

 

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