The first national American Football federation outside of the United States was founded in Canada in 1896. Japan, an early adopter of American football, established its national federation in 1936 and the first European federation was formed in 1976.
Since then, the sport has experienced a significant expansion, especially in Europe, culminating in the founding of the European Federation of American Football (EFAF) in 1993. Five years later (1998), the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) was officially formed.
As the international governing body IFAF looks after American Football and its three disciplines: tackle, flag and beach football.
In 2003 IFAF became a provisionary member of SportAccord and a full member in 2005.
Participation in competitions and tournaments are a cornerstone of IFAF objectives and the inaugural IFAF Senior World Championship kicked off in Palermo, Italy, in 1999. Japan became the sport's first world champion by defeating Mexico 6-0 in overtime in the championship game. Japan retained its title four years later in 2003 in Frankfurt, Germany, when Mexico was again defeated 34-14 in the gold medal game. In 2007 the United States entered a nationally selected team for the first time and triumphed in Tokyo, Japan, denying the host nation a third successive title by a score of 23-20 in overtime. Four years later the United States repeated as champions during the World Championships in Austria defeating Canada.
IFAF also governs the Women's World Cup, the Under-19 Junior World Championships and the World Flag Football Championships for both men and women.