Defending European Champions, Team Italy, refuses to play Russia

The Italian Federation of American Football, FIDAF, (Federazione Italiana Di American Football), has announced that the Italian National Team, IFAF Europe title holders, will not play against Russia this October in a qualifier for the 2023 IFAF European Championships.

Italy defeated Team Sweden on October 31, 2021 to capture its third ever European title. Italy was also the European champion in 1983 and 1985.

Team Italy would have been scheduled to face Russia, possibly in St. Petersburg, in October. However, without an official decision from IFAF, the International Federation of American Football, as to whether Russia would be excluded from the IFAF competitions, the Italian federation has, it seems, followed the lead of other federations and international bodies, including the IOC which on March 4, banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in the Paralympics, due to the outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

FIDAF works for sport as a vehicle for peace and is aware that athletes have no role in the ongoing war events and that they do not weigh on the geopolitical chessboard. At the same time, our Federation expresses its deep sadness about the ongoing war and its condolences to the victims of so much violence. The FIDAF cannot ignore the situation that has arisen, and therefore believes that the conditions are not in place to continue the organization of this event, reiterating that the safety of the athletes is an absolute priority, especially if they are involved.

FIDAF President Leoluca Orlando:

FIDAF observes with attention and concern the events in progress and listens to the recommendations of the IOC and CONI, and the concerns of its athletes and staff directly involved. To date, we have no guarantee about the possibility of playing the match against Russia and we must also take into account the fact that a trip of this type, currently, also remains, on the level of the organization, out of the question, and this beyond any relevant emotional and ethical implications of the issue.”

The FIDAF, therefore, aligns itself with the thought and actions of most of the Italian and international sports federations, taking a position widely shared by the Italian athletes themselves, trusting that the decision that belongs to the International Federation will be announced as soon as possible.


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