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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019
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Deadline passes and Ireland's €56 million American football game is still unsanctioned

Though the organisers are confident it will be staged.

Boston College fullback Bobby Wolford in action last season.
Boston College fullback Bobby Wolford in action last season.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE DEADLINE HAS passed for the company running September’s high-profile college football game between Boston College and Georgia Tech, which organisers say is worth more than €50 million to the local economy, to comply with minimum sanctioning requirements for the game.

A spokesperson for Irish American Football Association (IAFA) said that the organisers “had applied for sanction but had yet to demonstrate compliance with the safety, welfare and insurance requirements for playing games in Ireland”.

The spokesperson added that these are the same minimum requirements which the IAFA’s 23 amateur teams across the island comply with.

This follows revelations last week that the IAFA had claimed they were owed over €11,000 in legal fees for the sanctioning of the game.

A spokesperson for organisers Irish American Events Limited (IAEL) said that they had no concerns over the game.

“There are no concerns around the game happening and the organisers are very happy with any and all timeframes they have set for the successful staging of the game.”

The spokesperson added that IAEL was in contact with “all parties” on the game, but did not elaborate on when sanctioning would be met or whether they accepted the IAFA claim in respect of legal fees allegedly owed to IAFA.

Documents

Despite documents showing that the organisers agreed to the sanctioning process and also to absorb any fees associated with that process, they have failed to meet Thursday’s deadline.

Last week, Irish American Events Limited indicated that the game was sanctioned by the NCAA in the US. However, the NCAA is not the governing body for American football in the US and have no role to play in the sanctioning of games. This function is carried out by USA Football.

Under Irish regulations, the recognised National Governing Body (NGB) is responsible for sanctioning all competitive fixtures in their code held in the country.

The Irish Sports Council recognises the Irish American Football Association (IAFA) as American football’s NGB here.

The NCAA did not respond by publication to reply when asked to confirm if they had any part to play in either the sanctioning or running of the game. Likewise, when contacted for a quote, the designated home team – Boston College – has not replied.

The Department of Sport told TheJournal.ie that it had no role in sanctioning and was leaving the matter to the bodies involved.

The interaction between the organisers of events and National Governing Bodies is entirely a matter for the parties involved.

A letter from IFAF, the world governing body for American football, says they support the decision not to sanction the game if the requirements are not met. Another email supports the IAFA’s stance that it alone is responsible for sanctioning the game.

Health and safety

The IAFA re-iterated their stance that “the purpose of the sanctioning process is to check that all games played in this jurisdiction comply with minimum safety, welfare and insurance requirements” and documents show they had a number of concerns over this game.

Organisers were told that insurance for the game needed to be in place by 30 June to allow full checks to take place as the extent of cover. However, IAEL said that insurance would not be in place until 3 August, one month before the game.

Another issue was that no anti-doping agency was named to carry out drug testing at the event alongside the Irish Sports Council. In previous years, the United States Anti-Doping Agency have fulfilled that role.

Next steps

The IAFA could not comment on what will happen with the game now, though its standard sanctioning form contains a clause on appeals.

It says that any appeals would go to Just Sport Ireland, an independent resolutions body for the sports industry, for binding arbitration.

It is not known what would happen should the IAFA win such an appeal.

Read: Organisers confident €56m American football game will go ahead despite sanctioning row

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke & Paul Hosford

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