IFAF Congress in New York Elects New Leadership

The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) faction led by Roope Noronen, held its annual Congress this past Saturday, September 17 in New York.

The meeting saw the election of a new Presidium.

President – Richard MacLean (Canada)
Senior Vice President – Mac Kaneuji (Japan)
Vice President – Scott Hallenbeck (USA)
Treasurer – Marie Solhaug (Norway)
Secretary – Chris Josey  (Australia)

Incumbent president Noronen (Finland), the president of the Suomen Amerikkalaisen Jalkapallon Liitto (SAJL), did not stand for re-election. Former treasurer Scott Hallenbeck (USA) was elected to vice president, and replaced as treasurer by Marie Solaug (Norway). Sweden’s Minette Rogner (Sweden) is replaced by Chris Josey (Australia) as secretary.

New president Richard MacLean was most recently president of Football Canada from 2013 until June of this year. He has been a member of Football Canada’s Board of Directors since 2009 has also served as Football Nova Scotia president since 2004. On the IFAF stage he most recently served as IFAF America chairman.

An official press release was issued from the IFAF New York Congress that took place this past Saturday as this article was posted:

The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) held its Annual Congress in New York, United States, on September 17 – just one week after the World Flag Football Championships were staged in Miami.

The IFAF invited representatives from all its Member countries to attend to discuss and help plan the future of football – This year, representatives from nations spanning the continents of Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania, attended.

IFAF President, Roope NORONEN welcomed Congress and spoke of the highlights, achievements and challenges faced during the past year.

The highlights included the staging of the u19 World Championship in China and the Flag Football Championships in the United States and Mexico’s contribution to the FISU World Championship.

He praised the innovative grassroots schemes taking place around the world and the continued hard work of volunteers the world over.

Noronen ‎addressed the challenges which have affected the sport since 2015 and reinforced the desire to see these resolved at the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS).

Noronen also confirmed that he would not stand for re-election to the Executive Board due to commitments to the Finnish Federation. He praised the work of the Executive Board and others during his time in office.

Guest speaker was Mark WALLER Executive Vice President: NFL International, who addressed the IFAF Congress on the work of the NFL in broadening access to the game and the importance of ensuring that a unified federation developed the sport worldwide.

Presentations were also made by a delegation from Panama on the hosting of international events.

Key points from Congress:

Nations committed to supporting the resolution of international governance issues at CAS.

An independent organisation will lead a review of the IFAF Statutes, policies and procedures.‎

Delegates and attendees hailed from: American Samoa; Argentina; Australia; Canada; Chile; China; Denmark; Finland; Great Britain; Israel; Italy; Japan; Kenya; Korea; Mexico; New Zealand; Norway; Panama, Sweden and the United States.

Board Elections:

Mr. Richard MACLEAN (Canada) was elected to serve as President.

Mr. Makato KANEUJI (Japan) was re-elected to serve as Senior Vice President.

Mr. Scott HALLENBECK (United States) was elected to serve as Vice President.

Ms. Marie SOLHAUG (Norway) was elected to serve as Treasurer.

Mr. Chris JOSEY (Australia) was elected to serve as Secretary.

All terms of office are four years.

The IFAF led by Tommy Wiking held its own Congress in Paris on the same day.

What do we expect next?

Look for the New York IFAF to re-evaluate itself after this meeting. They will look to find out who it can count among its members and work to unravel the mess that is Europe. The continent is deeply divided with Great Britain, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark firmly on one side; Germany, France, and Ireland on the other; and most other nations waiting to see who comes out as the true leadership of the sport’s international federation.

We hope the Congress leaves New York with a transparent and unified plan that can be put in to action. Something that can be vetted and approved by its members and delegates. No more behind-closed door deals and quid pro quo.

IFAF may even need to revisit it’s current statutes that led to the predicament they are in now.

Also, with the two separate sides in the IFAF at an impasse, the IFAF Congress in New York may elevate its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The CAS is an international quasi-judicial body established to settle disputes related to sport through arbitration. Its headquarters are in Lausanne (Switzerland) and its courts are located in New York, Sydney and Lausanne. All Olympic International Federations have recognized the jurisdiction of CAS for at least some disputes.

IFAF looks to improve its relationship with the world’s best known American football organization, the National Football League (NFL). The NFL has been hesitant to engage with the federation thus far due to its troubled past and recent unclear and questionable leadership issues.

Although it is well known that gaining status as an Olympic sport is the ultimate goal for the American football, look for IFAF to begin to taking steps towards other participation in other sporting event competitions under the Olympic banner such as the Pan-American Games, Commonwealth Games.

No matter what must be done, the American football world has a long road to go to become unified again. Only hard work, perseverance, trust, and teamwork; all supreme tenants of this sport we all love; can repair this fractured mess.

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.