IFAF’s Differences Still Simmering Below the Surface

The two factions of IFAF (International Federation of American Football) have seemingly come no closer to resolving their differences after this year’s total split at the World Congress in Canton, Ohio.

The resounding silence from both sides, apart from Tommy Wiking’s brief showing at the German Bowl to award the 2018 European Championships to Germany, has implied that talks were being held behind the scenes in an attempt to bring together all parties to heal wounds and move on to help American football around the world.

IFAF - Andy Fuller 3

Andy Fuller

Apparently, nothing of the kind has taken place.

The two sides are seemingly no closer to a resolution and it appears that they have not even been communicating as indicated by an article on the IFAF website and also posted on the IFAF Oceania Facebook page written by Andy Fuller, managing director of IFAF, stating that the 2016 U19 World Championships have been provisionally awarded to China. This prompted an immediate and damning response from Mishaal T. Fahad Al-Sabah, the Vice Chair of IFAF Asia.

Al-Sabah claims this to be the work of a rogue element of the former IFAF executive board. By “Andy Read” in his statement he is probably referring to Andy Fuller:

“Dear All,
It has come to our attention that rogue members of the ex IFAF exbo have stated through Mr. Andy Read that China (represented by Mr. Ken Li) will host a u19 Championship. Please be aware that China is currently not part of IFAF Asia or IFAF. And that the organization that Mr Ken Li represents is a private company whose statutes do not include a democratic process for choosing the board of directors. This is a clear violation of IOC regulations and IFAF statutes. Furthermore, in Kuwait 2014 the private company that Mr. Ken Li represents was denied membership into IFAF Asia because of the reasons specified beforehand. Finally, we know that Mr. Fuller represents the rogue ex IFAF exbo members so everything decided by them are not in effect and should be taken as representatives of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF).”

Andy Fuller’s statement:

“The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) are delighted to announce that the 2016 u19 World Championship has provisionally been awarded to China.

The Championship is scheduled to be held at Harbin University of Commerce in early July and will be coordinated by AFU China and local partners.

Ken Li (Chairman and Founder of AFU) said: “We are delighted to work with IFAF on the staging of this prestigious event. Both AFU and our partners have worked hard to lay the foundations for a tremendous championship for the competing nations and create a platform to support the wider development of the game across our country
Andy Fuller, Managing Director of IFAF , said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the u19 World Championships in China in 2016.

“The Championships will shine a light on the fantastic work being undertaken by a range of stakeholders in China to develop football and the nation’s hosting of a major event such as the u19 World Championship will serve to provide an incredible inspiration to so many.”

Fuller concluded “In the coming days we will finalise a site visit lead by our Competition Lead, Shige Watanabe, and we look forward to working with Mr Li and partners on the necessary due diligence for the awarding.”

This lack of communication from both sides is surprising given the importance of IFAF in developing American football on an international scale.

The fact that the IFAF announcement was posted on the IFAF Oceania Facebook page seems to indicate that the differences between the two sides are not close to being resolved.

Neither Roope Noronen nor Tommy Wiking were available for comment.

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.