First ever IFAF World Cup of American Football featured in NFL Films

With the 2019 IFAF World Men’s Championships scheduled to be played in  Wollongong,  Australia, it is fitting to look back on the first World Cup of American Football featured by NFL Films.

The first time the International Federation of American Football organized a World Cup was in Palermo on the island of Sicily in Italy in 1999.

Six nations participated –  Japan, Mexico, Australia, Sweden, Finland and Italy – with Team Japan winning the entire tournament, beating Mexico 6-0 in overtime in the gold medal game.

Although the two top countries in the world, the United States and Canada, did not participate, the tournament was monumental.  IFAF had only been formed the year before, in 1998, so the event marked the first time that the game of American football gained true international status.

NFL Films memorialized the tournament, profiling each of the six participating teams, capturing the excitement of the 10 day event held from June 24 to, fittingly, July 4, 1999.

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.