Last weekend the annual IFAF Congress was held in Paris, France. Fifty four countries were represented at the Congress, the largest ever attendance at any IFAF meeting or event. While IFAF has been in a state of flux over the past 3-4 years, there is now a new sense of optimism going forward, with delegates supporting a number of significant reforms.
President Tommy Wiking reported on attending the General Meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Rio, Brazil. The Paris Congress introduced various reforms to ensure that the standard procedures and organisational approach within IFAF reflects best practise among global sports associations recognised by the IOC. American football currently has preliminary IOC recognition and is on the path to permanent IOC membership.
Irish representatives elected to key positions
Janice Ward of Ireland was elected to the IFAF Presidium for a four year term and will serve as Secretary of the organisation. Janice’s inclusion on the Presidium makes her one of the most influential people on the International scene in all of Irish sport. Ireland also had a second person elected to a key position; IAFA President Michael Smith was elected Vice-President of IFAF Europe, the Continental Federation representing the member countries in Europe.
The Presidium is the 10 person ‘Board’ of IFAF. Following fresh elections at the Congress, the new Presidium is as follows:
President – Tommy Wiking (Sweden)
Senior Vice President – Robert Huber (Germany)
Vice President – Sahin Komurcu (Turkey)
Vice President – Prof. Leoluca Orlando (Italy)
Treasurer – Marco Antonio Cobar (Guatemala)
Secretary – Janice Ward (Ireland)
Legal Officer – Michel Daum (France)
Ordinary Members – John Mahnen (USA), Anon Raras Mitayani-Hahn (Indonesia) and Namdev Shiraonkar (India)
IFAF Europe becomes a Continental Association
As part of the package of reforms introduced at the Congress, IFAF Europe was established as a Continental Association, replacing the old IFAF Europe subcommittee of IFAF. This will give European member countries, and indeed those in equivalent Continental Associations worldwide, more autonomy in running International national team and club competitions within their own continent. The membership of the IFAF Europe Board consists of many of the key people from the various European competitions including the EuroBowl, EFL, IFAF Champions League and the Atlantic Cup, reflecting the new sense of unity going forward.
The IFAF Europe Board is as follows:
President: Enrique Garcia de Castro (Spain)
Vice President: Michael Smith (Ireland)
General Secretary: Uwe Talke (Germany)
Director of Sports: Romeo Tjoe-A-On (Netherlands)
Others functions in managing committee: Manfredi Leone (Italy), Thomas Ahlberg (Sweden) and Jedrzej Steszewski (Poland).
United States and others suspended for Anti-Doping violations
The one negative issue arising out of the weekend was the suspension of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Finland, Sweden & Denmark for breaking IFAF Anti-Doping rules. The suspensions were handed out because these countries refused to cooperate with World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) recommended measures for out of competition testing including refusing to give athletes’ whereabouts information.
“IFAF, as a WADA signatory and IOC recognised International Federation, is committed to protecting clean athletes. I sincerely hope that these national federations realise the grave position they have put themselves in and that they comply with the WADA and IFAF Anti-doping program as soon as possible”, stated IFAF President Mr Tommy Wiking.
The refusal by the United States to cooperate with anti-doping testing mirrors a situation encountered by IAFA recently. Representatives of the recent Boston College v Georgia Tech game in Aviva Stadium asked to be tipped off in advance of any short notice surprise testing to be undertaken by local or International anti-doping organisations and indicated a reluctance to give anti-doping testers direct access to athletes. All recognised sports contests in Ireland are required to adhere to National and International anti-doping rules, which may include the random testing of athletes.