The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) has announced that the 2019 Men’s World Championships, originally scheduled to be played July 29-August 5 in Wollongong, Australia, has been postponed until 2023.
The original announcement about holding the tournament in Australia came only in September when Gridiron Australia revealed Wollongong to be the host city. However, IFAF has confirmed that Australia will remain hosts of the tournament.
According to Richard MacLean, president of IFAF, the inability of the top tier nations to confirm that they will compete in the event on such short notice, was the main reason behind the rescheduling. Nations that had declined the invitation or have been unable to confirm participation are Austria, France, Mexico and Canada not to mention Germany.
“After the congress in Panama, when it was announced Australia would host the tournament we felt confident it could go ahead. But once many countries started crunching the numbers after getting back home, it became apparent that finding the funding on such a short notice would be tough, if not impossible.”
MacLean states that the decision was made by the 12-member IFAF Executive Board with representatives from 10 different countries, in conjunction with Gridiron Australia.
“This was not an easy decision to make. But the whole thing became a cascade effect,” said MacLean. “Once one country stated that they had doubts about the viability of their participation, then others began voicing their concerns. We decided then, after a great deal of deliberation, that we needed to slow things down, to give countries some breathing room, to enable them to plan properly. An event like this requires some government funding which can take up to two years to arrange.”
Until only recently, the international football community has been in a state of turmoil. The 2015 IFAF World Championships were cancelled in Stockholm, Sweden and moved to Canton, Ohio on short notice. IFAF then suffered a global split which took until September 2018 to be resolved. Following the ruling by CAS, which confirmed Richard MacLean as the president of IFAF, the American football’s governing body has been working to rebuild the global organization, as well the arduous task of repairing and restoring relationships.
While many, if not most nations, have begun to return to the organization, it has not been easy. A world championship event of this magnitude is a tremendous strain not only on the host nation but on the competing countries. National organization budgets are often ear-marked to fund or supplement costs related to travel (food, hotels, etc..) but also for pre-tournament training facilities for combines and camps. With IFAF having been in a state of flux for so long, a period of far longer than 12 months is needed for planning according to MacLean.
“We need to know four years in advance where major international tournaments will be held. This is why we have begun scheduling the other tournaments differently now.”
However, with a number of other championship tournaments now scheduled over the next four to five years, including Men’s, Women’s, U19 and Flag, both international and continental, it created a conflict. In other words, 2023 was the next best alternative year for a Men’s championship.
“Planning properly and showing responsibility to all our members is crucial,” continued MacLean. “Although we had the best of intentions in trying to organize a world championship tournament four years after the last one, unfortunately the events that have transpired in the interim have made planning and organizing impossible.”
On the heels of the announcement of the 2019 Men’s World Championship postponement, IFAF released a schedule of global events through 2024. More on this in dedicated post.