Italy Leads Appeal to Unify American Football in Europe

The turmoil which has plagued the International Federation of American Football over the past 22 months, originally triggered by the cancellation of the 2015 World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, doesn’t seem to be going away soon.

With two factions – IFAF New York  (so called due to congress held in New York) and IFAF Paris (held congress in Paris) – vying for control and neither conceding nor apparently even bothering to make any attempt at reconciliation, a number of European federations have had enough.

These national federations have issued a statement and invitation to other countries in Europe to meet on November 26 in Rome, Italy to discuss how to move forward.

Led by Italy, eight nations in total, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Israel, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania and Serbia, have issued the invitation to all the governing bodies in Europe to meet to attempt to decide the future.

Arbitration may not be a solution

Although there is talk of arranging a hearing with CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sports, there is belief that not even a clear decision from that body would mend the situation.

As stated in the invitation:

“Even if CAS is finally deciding which of the two boards is legal, this is no guarantee that the conflict is over. We fear that this will not end the war but only be another battle in an endless conflict.”

So, these eight countries are calling for Europe to come together. The eight have remained outside of the conflict which involves IFAF New York and IFAF Paris.

IFAF New York is led by the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Great Britain and Mexico while the lead nations of IFAF Paris are Germany, France, Spain, Kuwait and the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica.

On one side in Europe and supporting IFAF New York is Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. On the other, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, BelgiumRussia, Turkey and Ireland. Other nations who are seemingly neutral or uncommitted, for the time being at least, are Poland, Switzerland, Hungary, Portugal, Belarus, Latvia, and Bulgaria.

Although there are claims that American football exists in a number of other countries who allegedly are supporting the IFAF Paris faction, such as MonacoGreece, Montenegro, Albania and a host of other nations, there is no evidence of organized football in these countries, as yet, nor has contact information been provided for these organizations.

The head of the Italian federation – FIDAF – feels so strongly about resolving the dispute that he is declining to serve on the IFAF Paris board to which he was elected in September at the Paris congress and Italy also pulled Manfredi Leone’s name as a member of the new IFAF Europe Continental Committee:

“In a move that confirms just how convinced the FIDAF is of the importance of accomplishing this objective, the Federal Council of the FIDAF has unanimously agreed to suspend all decisions regarding my election in Paris as the Vice President of IFAF and Manfredi Leone as a board member of IFAF Europe.”

Unity in Europe crucial

The importance of unity in Europe cannot be understated.

There is no other region in the world where so much inter-country American football is played. In addition to a number of Europe-wide club tournaments, the inter-nation European championships are held every four years and a number of key countries stand on opposite sides of the conflict.

Please find below the full statement from Italy’s FIDAF president Leoluca Orlando.

The second document is the FIDAF’s invitation to all European nation federation.



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.