A letter from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that the world’s most powerful international sporting organization recognizes that American football’s IFAF needs to get its house in order.
The letter, addressed to Roope Noronen and copied to Tommy Wiking, from IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell, has been circulated to all the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) member federations and calls for the global federation to ‘settle the dispute amicably’ for the ‘benefit of the development of your sport and your athletes.’
Please see the letter the below.
The ‘internal governance issues’ to which McConnell alludes relate to the division of the federations’ leadership.
The fracturing began soon after the cancellation of American football’s 2016 World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden in December of 2015 and was split wide open at the re-scheduled World Championships, held in Canton, Ohio, in July 2016.
One administration, led by the former IFAF Vice President and current Finnish federation President Roope Noronen, denied former IFAF President Tommy Wiking a spot among the IFAF Executive Board on the grounds that they had accepted his resignation in April of 2015.
Rebuking the rejection and denying the resignation, Wiking and his supporters held their own ‘Congress’ elsewhere on the hotel grounds, counting their own delegates, filing their own minutes, and claiming to be the one and true 2015 IFAF Congress in Canton.
Since last summer, Noronen’s faction have organized and awarded the IFAF U19 World Championships which will take place this summer in Harbin, China. Wiking’s side organized and held a four nations tournament in Central America.
In March, Wiking’s faction did call an Extraordinary Congress in Paris, France. Although IFAF recognizes over 70 member nations, only 28 delegates from 20 nations apparently attended and passed motions on behalf of the whole of the federation. Many of the globe’s top American football playing nations did not attend including USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden and Austria.
Wiking’s IFAF has not provided a list of the delegates who attended the Paris Congress after repeated requets. A photo from the IFAF Facebook page shows 28 attendees. However, it is impossible to verify who attended, or how many attended from each country’s federations. According to IFAF statutes, the minutes of the Congress do not have to be released for three months after the event.
Keeping Up Appearances?
A few weeks ago Wiking, made a statement to Liam Morgan, a reporter for insidethegames.com in which he claimed that everything is fine with the world’s governing body for American football.
In the article, when asked about the reason for the extraordinary meeting that was held in Paris in late March, Wiking said this:
The meeting was held to ratify formal decisions which legally could not be finalised during the last IFAF Congress on July 17, 2015 in Ohio, USA,” a statement on the IFAF Facebook page read following the Congress in Paris.
“These matters needed immediate attention, largely due to IFAF’s consistent and ongoing review by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”
“The IOC maintains frequent and constant connection with potential Olympic sports and the current status in regards to Olympic recognition.”
insidethegames understands Andy Fuller, the former managing director of the organisation, has not been part of the restructure within the governing body after he was removed by the IFAF Presidium.
“There is no turmoil and the IFAF administration is fulfilling its duties,” Wiking said.
“IFAF is on a good path to grow.”
Wiking made these claims as he attended the IOC congress in Lausanne, Switzerland. Accompanied by Zorica Hoffman, and Robert Huber, he also attended the Sport Accord meetings.
To further muddy the waters, yesterday, Wiking’s IFAF faction also announced that the new Regular congress in Paris will be held in September;
It is unclear the validity of any of either factions plans, motions, claims, or calls for Extraordinary or Regular congresses.
Although both factions await a ruling from the French courts later this month, it seems as though the IOC is clearly advising the factions to “settle the dispute amicably or through an appropriate dispute resolution mechanism, including, ultimately, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).”
With all American football’s Olympics hopes put on hold by IOC, both factions of IFAF must find a way to heal the wounds and bring the organization back together.
For the good of the game.