IFAF President Richard MacLean issues statement on 2018 Congress

The International Federation of American Football held its first “unified” Congress in four years in Panama City, Panama in conjunction with the 2018 IFAF Flag Football World Championship, .

This was the first Congress following the CAS ruling earlier this year naming Richard MacLean as the true president of IFAF.

A total of 23 nations were in attendance including Japan, USA, Canada, Haiti, Panama, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Great Britain, Israel, Austria, Finland, France, Italy, Serbia, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Jamaica, Czech Republic and India.

Among the many items on the agenda, the election of a new executive was held along with five continental directors. President of IFAF is Richard MacLean from Canada. Vice President: Scott Hallenbeck (United States), Director of Development: Mac Kaneuji (Japan); Director of Competitions: Kasper Linden (Denmark); Director of Finance: Marie Solhaug (Norway); General Secretary: Chris Josey (Australia);.

The five continental directors are as follows:
Chair of IFAF Africa: George Alwang’a (Kenya); Chair of IFAF Americas: Jaime Carrizo (Panama); Chair of IFAF Asia: Dr KK Park (Korea); Chair of IFAF Europe: Gregor Murth (Austria); Chair of IFAF Oceania: Michael Ryan (Australia).

Other key positions:

IFAF Athlete Representative: Veronica Salas (Panama); Managing Director: Andy Fuller; Rules: Jim.Briggs; Officiating: Bill.Lemonnier

Another key item was the official announcement of the next IFAF World Championships which will be held in Australia from October 15 to October 28, 2019. More details on the event will be forthcoming.

The last time a “unified” Congress was held, former president Tommy Wiking and a number of nations walked out in a protest, forming their own separate body, causing major upheaval in the international football world for almost three years. Two bodies then formed with the countries that had remained loyal to the original IFAF forming a faction and the other countries forming their own, holding separate meetings and congresses. 

This congress in Panama was the first return to normalcy within IFAF since then.

IFAF President Richard MacLean issued the following statement:

This time last week IFAF held Board meetings and its annual Congress in Panama City, Panama, coinciding with the staging of the 2018 World Flag Football Championships.

It was a privilege to attend the tournament and to see such high quality football being played. The athletes were a credit to their respective countries. It is also fair to say that they were given a magnificent stage upon which to perform. The Local Organising Committee and the Panamanian Federation delivered a wonderful championships and set the bar high against which we will measure future events.

On behalf of the Executive Board I would like to thank those delegates who travelled to Panama. Being able to speak with people prior to, during, and post Congress, proved invaluable.

As I said in the Congress Agenda document, IFAF is presented with an unprecedented opportunity for renewal. During our Strategy Meeting I outlined the key pillars of that strategy. Around these we will seek the views of our members to help us shape our priorities. In the coming weeks details of how that consultation will work will be shared by our Managing Director.

The Strategy Meeting also allowed us the opportunity to openly discuss the strengths which define our membership and the challenges each member faces. Being able to fully understand this landscape is crucial in ensuring that we deliver a strategy that is fit for purpose.

It was positive to hear that members in attendance were unanimous in endorsing the need for a unified IFAF – one by which members would be defined by their respect for the Statutes and their obligations. Just as IFAF must work for members, they in turn, must support the federation. Membership of IFAF is not given in perpetuity and nor is there a place for running activity in parallel or counter to IFAF.

With regard to membership we welcome Cameroon. Congress accepted their membership application and they will have the opportunity to become Associate Members in 2019. Cameroon have delivered some landmark events in recent months and bring to IFAF a unique perspective which can only positively impact upon IFAF’s work. Indeed, the ability for emerging nations to join as Allied Members has enriched our federation and ensures that we can deliver for nations regardless of the state of football development.

As part of Congress, we welcomed the election of five continental directors. Dr KK Park (Asia) and Michael Ryan (Oceania) return and we are delighted that they will be joined by George Alwang’a (Africa), Jaime Carrizo (Americas), and Gregor Murth (Europe). Ensuring that we have talented and committed workforce at continental level is now our next step and shortly we will be welcoming people to step forward for a breadth of roles.

At the heart of what we do is football. This summer has seen three tournaments which have proved to be tremendous showcases for our sport. Our u19 World Championship saw Canada retain the title in front of over 33,000 fans in the stadium and over 5 million people watching online. The European Championship in Finland was characterised in equal measure by both quality football and quality event management. As I have mentioned above, the World Flag Championships broke the mould and gave our flag athletes an unparalleled platform.

We are now in the enviable position of being able to talk to major sporting organisations about not only tackle football as a showcase but flag football too – something which is an even more attractive proposition when linked with the enormous potential for flag in schools and the community. Advocating the inclusion of flag football in multi-sport games will be high on our agenda.

The importance of clean sport was again reinforced. It is vital that players, coaches and fans know that the wonderful competition we have seen across the three international tournaments this summer is based firmly upon athletes competing fairly. We have already invested heavily to meet unmet financial commitments built up in recent years by others and we will continue to work with nations to ensure that there are appropriate education, training and testing programmes across our sport.

Finally, it was agreed that there would be a realigning of age brackets for IFAF competitions.

All competitions deemed ‘adult’, inclusive of the World and Continental Championships (women and men – tackle; women and men – flag) and sanctioned competitive internationals would require all registered athletes to be turning 19 years old in the year of the fixture or tournament.

u19 events will, after the current cycle culminating with the World Championship in 2020, will become u20 events. The World Championship will be scheduled every four years with continental championships in-between, thereby supporting the agenda of establishing an increased number of continents staging championships which feed the World Championship and to reduce the financial burden on many nations.

Over the coming days IFAF will seek feedback on the Congress structure and content from the nations which attended.

We look forward to working with you in the coming months.

Yours sincerely,


Richard MacLean

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