The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) has selected Israel to host the Flag Football World Championships at the Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem, December 6-8, 2021. The 3-day tournament is expected to attract more than 40 teams from up to 30 countries competing for the world title and a spot in The World Games 2022.
The bi-annual tournament was originally scheduled to take place in Denmark in 2020, but was postponed due to the worldwide COVID pandemic, and then Spain were set to host it this summer. For a variety of reasons including the pandemic, the decision was made to move the tournament to Israel in December.
The Kraft Family Sports Campus hosted one of the most successful European Championships in 2019.
“The Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem is fast becoming an iconic venue for Flag Football,” said IFAF President Richard MacLean. “I look forward to seeing the world's finest flag football players coming together for what will undoubtedly be a great event. The competition is tremendous, as teams compete to secure their place at the World Games, and one team will earn the honor of being crowned IFAF Flag Football World Champions.”
The lead sponsor for the World Championships is New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft who has long supported American Football in Israel.
“We love the game of American football and are so proud to see the sport’s popularity continue to grow internationally in its various forms, including flag football,” said Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group. “When we invested in the Kraft Family Sports Campus it was with the hope that it would not only provide a location for daily exercise and competition for all Israelis, but that it would also become a destination for championship-level competition for football leagues throughout the Middle East and Europe. It was an investment in both Israel and American football, two of my greatest passions.”
This year, the Flag Football World Championship (FFWC) takes on added significance as flag football will be included for the first time at The World Games that will be played in the U.S. city of Birmingham, Alabama in July 2022. The World Games 2022 football competition will be limited to the top eight men’s and women’s flag football teams in the world, and those teams will be selected based on final placement at the 2021 World Championships. The inclusion of American football at The World Games 2022 is presented by the NFL.
An expected 800 players, coaches and officials are expected to attend the event which will be housed at the Ramada Renaissance and Ramada Royal hotels. AFI President Steve Leibowitz will head the local organizing committee and welcomed the opportunity saying, “The COVID-related sports challenges are not yet behind us, but looking forward we are quite confident that our organization can provide a safe and exciting championship venue. I am proud to bring a football world championship to the Israeli capital and hoping the home crowd will help our teams reach The World Games 2022.”
The United States men and women are the current flag football world champions after winning the gold at the FFWC held in Panama in 2018. The other pre-tournament favorites on the men’s side are the reigning silver medalists Austria, the reigning European champions Denmark and Mexico. Israel is currently ranked 5th . On the women’s side, joining the U.S. as favorites are silver medalists Panama, the reigning European champions Spain, as well as Austria and Canada.
The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) is the global governing body for the sport of American Football. IFAF is provisionally recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a Member of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.