Splintered IFAF Holding Two Separate Congresses this Saturday

If anyone doubted that the split in International Federation of American Football (IFAF) would ultimately lead to the total demise of the organization as an international governing body for American football, the two separate IFAF Congresses scheduled for Saturday, September 17 are definitive proof.

This Saturday, the Tommy Wiking-led contingent is holding its Congress in Paris. Meanwhile, the Roope Noronen faction is meeting for its Congress in New York. (For background on how we got here read this.)

Needless to say countries around the world have been being lobbied to attend one or the other. The key nations attending the Wiking’s Paris Congress will include Germany, France, Ireland, and Kuwait. The United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland and Wiking’s own country of Sweden, head up the list of countries who will be in New York in a Congress led by Noronen.

However, no matter what happens at these two meetings, one thing is clear. After this, there will be no true international governing body for American football. The two sides are too far apart and there has been no communication between the two for the purposes of reconciliation.

Which begs the question. What is the purpose of IFAF?

With so many of the key countries blatantly refusing to recognize Mr. Wiking as head of IFAF, what are the reasons for its existence? The same could be said of an IFAF headed up by Roope Noronen. Until the two sides reconcile, which seems impossible at this point, neither side represents the true interests of American football.

The changes proposed by Mr. Wiking to the his IFAF statutes would seem to further consolidate his power among a large number of countries, many of which apparently have no American football at all. A phone check of the sports federations of five countries accepted as members at his last IFAF congress meeting in March (Monaco, Montenegro, Kosovo, Greece, and South Africa) revealed that none of them have organized American football of any kind.

Furthermore, the Wiking Extraordinary Congress March minutes reveal that the following countries have already been approved as voting members in Wiking’s IFAF; Algeria, Ethiopia, Botswana, South Africa, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Georgia, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Monaco, and Macedonia.

Proposed Changes To Statutes Give Unprecedented Sweeping Power To Leadership

Based on the agendas for the meetings that were sent out, a split would seem to be permanent. Each faction side sent out meeting agendas. Including in the agenda for the Tommy Wiking faction, is a vote on the proposed changes to the IFAF statutes which bear looking at.

Here are seven key changes among many:

Qualification for membership

  1. New members are no longer required to have government recognition. Previously, members needed government sanctioning but now it appears that anyone can gain entry into IFAF if they claim to have a football team.
  2. Members registered as companies or operating as companies, whether non-profit or not, cannot be members. This will effectively remove the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain from international football.
  3. Members no longer need to represent a country governing body. Simply paying dues to any club in that country will suffice and allow that member to run for IFAF’s presidium. Basically, anyone can become head of an international sports governing body.

Governing powers

  1. The powers requested for the presidium will become as sweeping as imaginable and empower the presidium to add or delete member federations for any reason whatsoever.
  2. The Continental Associations are completely subject to the authority of the Presidium.
  3. Honorary Members are individuals who have rendered outstanding services to international American Football and who are voted Honorary Membership by the General Meeting.
  4. Honorary members have a vote and also can be used for proxies as defined in statutes.

Needless to say, Mr. Wiking is creating a power structure giving him unprecedented authority.

The question still remains. To what end?

The agenda sent out by the Noronen faction had only the following to say regarding amendments to the IFAF statutes:

“Over the latter half of 2015 and through 2016 various models of governance have been reviewed and considered for submission to the Congress. However, the consensus is that simply submitting a revised set of Statutes for voting upon would lack credibility and would smack of a process of political expediency, especially if this was done without reference to the full range of policies and procedures that IFAF should have for all committees, sub-committees and other operating units.”

So, one side proposes to drastically overhaul the statutes while the other thinks more due diligence is required before a solution can be submitted for a vote.

The two totally disparate approaches, not only to this congress, but to the structure and governance of the international governing body for amateur American football, does not bode well for its future. The organization that has been built up over the past 20 years and seemed to be on the verge of becoming a respected member of the international sports community, is now in tatters it seems.

Which still begs the question:

What is the purpose of an IFAF that does not unify and promote the game of American football?

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