American football took a big step closer to an Olympic end zone Tuesday as the International Olympic Committee granted the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) provisional IOC recognition during its meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.
A vote on football could take place as early as 2017. If approved, football would join the Summer Olympics lineup in 2024 at a host city yet to be determined.
“IFAF is proud to receive this recognition and join the Olympic family,” IFAF President Tommy Wiking said. “The enduring ideals of sport that comprise the Olympic Charter reside in our game’s timeless values and in the spirit of the millions who love to play it.
“We thank the IOC Executive Board and administration for its support throughout this process as well as our dedicated National and Continental committees. It is especially gratifying to share this recognition with American football athletes of all ages across the world, past and present. They have made and continue to make this an exceptional sport that captures our imaginations and unites us through competition in mind, body and heart.”
IFAF unites 64 countries on six continents, all of which have national federations dedicated to the sport of American football.
As the national governing body of the sport, USA Football is the United States’ representative to IFAF. USA Football currently fields national teams for international competition in men’s, women’s, Under-19, Under-18, Under-17, Under-16 and Under-15 tackle as well as men’s and women’s flag.
With provisional recognition some IFAF member countries will gain government support for sport development. The IOC decision may lead to more countries establishing American football programs as well.
In addition, this could offer American football more opportunities to be played in larger international competitions, such as the Pan American Games.
“On behalf of the IOC, we are delighted to welcome the IFAF into the Olympic family. The federation has long demonstrated strong youth appeal and is making great progress in developing their sport around the world. We trust that this provisional recognition will generate momentum in the further universal development of their disciplines.” said Christophe Dubi, IOC sports director.