The first virtual congress of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) concluded this weekend, with praise from the president on the resilience of nations in the face of unprecedented challenges, updates on the strengthening of the federation’s governance and plans for competition in 2021.
The 2020 IFAF Congress, chaired by IFAF President Richard MacLean, opened with the President paying tribute to the resilience of IFAF’s members and the football community at large as they have sought to deal with the unprecedented challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. The speech also paid tribute to those from within the football community who had passed away during the pandemic with a special reference to Jorge Orobio, the former IFAF Executive Board member and President of the Federation of Mexico who served both organisations with distinction.
Addressing the 50 nations attending Congress, he said “The pandemic has meant you as nations and we as IFAF have faced unprecedented challenges. The entire IFAF Board and I have been struck by the resilience, optimism and selflessness of the football community; from players training in isolation in living rooms, gardens, and bedrooms; leaders keeping federations afloat, and teams coming together to raise funds for the vulnerable, the dedication, commitment and goodwill has never been more in focus. I am proud of everything that you and your members have achieved this year.”
Following the opening address, IFAF Vice President Scott Hallenbeck gave a presentation detailing IFAF’s work over the past year as the federation seeks to strengthen its governance.
Hallenbeck singled out a series of examples where the federation has made great strides, from securing consultants to oversee compliance in IFAF’s anti-doping policies and programmes and working to enhance IFAF’s discipline, dispute and ethics programmes through engaging independent experts. He also outlined key areas of work that will carry on into 2021, notably focusing upon gender equality, sustainability, and football development initiatives to support members.
With this in mind, the IFAF membership voted to make changes to the IFAF Statutes, the federation’s governing document.
IFAF’s Statutes now specifically reference a commitment to promote within its structures, gender equality and a commitment to effectively represent the diverse communities which support the sport of American football.
The Game Development Committee has been renamed the Game Development and Sport for All Committee, to ensure that activities undertaken in the name of IFAF not only serve to develop the game but are as inclusive as possible, enabling individuals and communities to benefit from the multiple social, economic and health benefits football and physical activity can confer.
In line with the desire to strengthen the independence of IFAF’s disciplinary and ethics bodies, Congress voted overwhelmingly to create two distinct bodies. The composition and final remit of these will be established through working with external experts.