Czech federation cancels European Flag Football Championships

Citing political uncertainties, the Czech Association of American Football (ČAAF) has decided not to host the Flag Football European Championship scheduled for later this year.

In a statement released yesterday in English, but originally in Czech on March 30th, the federation says it was ready and able to host and produce the event but declined with the aim to avoid the ‘political games’ currently happening in international American football.

“We were aiming to host great tournament and our first and only focus was football. We hope, that as soon as the European situation is clear, the European Championship will ‘return’ back to Czechia,” said the statement ČAAF issued by its secretary, Michal Rosival.

The Czech federation statement lays out, in brief, the recent history that has led the federation to this decision. The organization was originally awarded the European Flag Football Championships in 2014, but since that time the ground has shifted beneath their feet.

Citing everything from the cancellation of the 2015 Stockholm IFAF World Championships and former president Tommy Wiking‘s legal problems to the clear European-wide split between nations supporting the different factions of the IFAF New York and IFAF Paris, the Czech federation passed up on hosting the tournament scheduled for later this summer.

The statement outlines the division in Europe between IFAF New York nations led by Denmark, Sweden, Great Britain, Sweden and IFAF Paris nations Germany, France, Spain and Ireland. The Czech Republic is the latest of many nations caught in the middle of a battle for control of future of international American football, and their frustration is evident. In the statement the CAAF notes they worked to try and communicate with IFAF Paris admistration directly in regards to the tourney, but to no avail.

ČAAF tried to contact (IFAF Paris) late in 2016, because we wanted to know, who to get in touch with and who will be the contact for EC. Paris’ reaction was quite shocking – ČAAF has been supposed to abandon the tournament already… and in very next email, Paris added, that ‘old’ IFAF Europe hasn´t given any information about hosting of the tournament and therefore Paris doesn’t know, who is actually the hosting country. Note, that Paris suddenly doesn´t know, who previously won the selection procedure, but on the other hand, they knew, that Czechia gave it up…

After rejection and repudiation by IFAF Paris, the ČAAF turned to IFAF New York for direction with the intent to host a tournament where all countries could participate. They were told the was not possible because of a resolution from the 2016 IFAF New York Congress that stated that IFAF members could only compete against other IFAF members that are in good standing, thus eliminating IFAF Paris countries from the Czech tourney.

The ČAAF came to the decision “under pressure of such condition, under possible threat of legal actions from Paris group and under uncertainty of number or participants.” Optimistically, the organization ended the release stating the “ČAAF decided to forego the tournament and we will hope, that once Europe becomes finally united, we will get the tournament.”

No compromise was to be had.

Flag Football Futures

The European Flag Football Championship have taken place every two years since 2003. Denmark has recently dominated the men’s table winning the last four titles, most recently beating Austria 52-8. On the women’s side Austria has won the last four tournaments, most recently topping France 45-15 at the tournament held in Spain in 2015.

In 2015, a total of 13 nations sent teams to compete in Pinto, Spain in a tourney that ran from September 17-20. Denmark, Great Britian, Finland, Sweden, Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Israel, Switzerland all sent either men’s and/or women’s teams to Spain in 2015.

In the meantime, IFAF Paris has quickly moved to replace the Czech Republic and reschedule the European Flag Football Championships, although it is unclear which nations will participate.

According to the IFAF Paris controlled website, it was decided at the IFAF Europe Continental Assocation (CA) Board meeting on February 12th 2017 that the European Flag Football Championships were awarded to Spanish American football federation, FEFA. Spanish federation president Enrique Garcia de Castro has also been newly installed by IFAF Paris as the IFAF Europe CA chairperson.

The tournament is scheduled to occur from September 7-10, 2017 at Las Rozas in Madrid, Spain. Entry to this tourney will be open for “all nations and members of IFAF Europe CA.” Entry deadline has been set for the end of June, when the fixtures and standings will be released.

See the full Czech Association of American Football (ČAAF) statement regarding the cancellation below.

John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.