IFAF WWC: Team Mexico finally arrives in Finland

After having to deal with bizarre and perplexing issues for over a week, players from the Mexican National Women’s Football team have finally arrived in Vantaa, Finland to salvage what they can from the IFAF Women’s World Championship.

According to Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Americano (FMFA), the country’s governing body for the sport, the third and last group of national team players boarded plane for Finland at around noon Finnish time Sunday. The first two groups arrived Sunday and the third group will be here August 1.

The players were supposed to be in Finland by July 28 to get ready to play Team Great Britain in the first game of the WWC at 9 am on July 30. But something went badly wrong. Despite FMFA assurances that their tickets had been bought, when the players prepared to leave, they found that those tickets did not exist. Why that happened has been the subject of a great deal of speculation on social media. The failure of the federation to get the players to the competition, as they had been promised, led to demonstrations in front of FMFA offices in Mexico that shut down traffic and brought a vigorous police response.

IFAF and the Suomen Americkkalaisen Jalkapallon Liitto ry (SAJL), the Finnish American football federation, had to cancel Team Mexico’s game against Team Great Britain, precluding Mexican participation in the medal round. This was a crushing blow to the team that had won the Bronze Medal in Canada in 2017.

Confusion marked the effort to bring the Mexican athletes to at least play one game. Finally on July 30, just before the post game press conference following the Team USA versus Team Germany game, a woman entered the SAJL offices at Myyrmäki Football Stadium and reported that the Mexican contingent was on its way.

Social media has been filled with images of the Team Mexico players dejectedly sitting in various locales in the Mexico City airport, and a number of commenters have called for the resignation of FMFA President Cesar Barrera. Barrera, in a message recorded on July 28 blamed the issue on a strike by the German air carrier Lufthansa. That did not satisfy his critics who tweeted their objections and took to the streets.

Though they will only be able to play two games, the dreams of the Mexican athletes who trained hard and made sacrifices to represent their nation on the international stage, would at last be realized. During the afternoon of July 31, IFAF and SAJL announced that Mexico would play Australia, who lost their first game against Canada 33-6 on Saturday. Australian HC Kevin Wilson confirmed that his team would be playing Team Mexico at 10:00 on Wednesday, August 3.

With the first contingents arriving, Team Mexico will at long last be able to take the field, and get some pleasure at playing, but they will not be able to repeat the outstanding play that earned them third place in 2017.

Russ Crawford is an Associate Professor of History at Ohio Northern University in Ada, OH. He has published three books: Women’s American Football: Breaking Barriers On and Off the Field (2022), Le Football: The History of American Football in