12 European Nations Met To Find Way Back To Unity

Representatives from 12 European nations gathered late last year in Rome, Italy to discuss the explosive situation in international American football and take the first steps to repairing the division caused by the rift in IFAF.

Delegates from Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Sweden were on hand for the day-long session.

The mission was clear. To rise above the conflict which threatens to destroy the International Federation of American Football, and bring the countries of Europe back together for the common good of the game.

This was a major step forward. But will its proposals be heeded?

The first two points are crucial at this stage. The new European Federation as appointed by IFAF Paris and the EFAF.com announced 2017 European U19 Championships. 

The eight team tournament is set to include Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Serbia, Italy, Russia and Hungary. France as the host and reigning champion Austria have automatic berths. Notably absent are Sweden, Denmark (third place finisher in 2015), Great Britain and Finland. These nations are among the countries that do not recognize the leadership of the IFAF Paris federation.

This political split among European nations, is the reason for last weekend’s meeting in Rome.

As stated in points 1 and 2 in the release:

  1. No nations should be banned to participate and current bans should be lifted so all nations shall participate together.
  2. Sport Director who will cooperate with the IFAF Europe Sport Director elected by IFAF Paris Congress will be chosen by the group of the undersigned federations in order to organise together and coordinate any future competitions until final solution is reached.

Will this help avert a conflict?

No one knows. It will depend on the willingness of the two factions to admit there is a problem and then find a solution that rises above political divisions. At this juncture, IFAF New York is proceeding with its case in the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) while IFAF Paris is forging ahead as if there is no conflict at all. These twelve European nations have taken it upon themselves to put in place a temporary solution.

Which makes the proposals from this meeting all that more important.

The 12 nations also agreed to coordinate the international transfers between themselves directly until such time as the overall IFAF situation is resolved.

Furthermore, they are appealing to both IFAF Paris and IFAF New York to respond to points one and two within 15 days.

Another meeting has been tentatively scheduled for January or February and it is hoped that the countries who abstained from this meeting including France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium as well as a number of others, will attend.

For full review of the Italian federation’s release see it below.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.