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Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy in 2014.
Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy in 2014.
Image: Mark Wallheiser

Department confirms there is no law to stop American football match being played without go-ahead from Irish association

The Department was vocal about the need for MMA to have an NGB, but says it will not support the American football association.
Aug 24th 2016, 6:15 AM 40,656 39

THE DEPARTMENT OF Transport, Tourism and Sport has confirmed that it will not intervene if next week’s American football game in the Aviva Stadium goes ahead with sanction.

The game between Boston College and Georgia Tech has been at the centre of a bitter dispute between the sport’s national governing body (NGB), the Irish American Football Association (IAFA) and the organisers of the event, Irish American Events Ltd (IAEL).

IAEL had applied for sanctioning for the game, but was rejected due to IAFA reservations over health, safety and insurance requirements.

IAFA had argued its status as a governing body, recognised by Sport Ireland, gave it a right to stop the game going ahead.

4/6/2015. American Football Game Announced Taoiseach Enda Kenny launched the event last June. Source: /Photocall Ireland

However, a Department spokesperson told that it would not be getting involved – because while it believes that NGBs are the best way to run sport in Ireland, there are no laws to allow them step in.

While the Department would encourage sporting event holders to seek sanction of the relevant NGB, we respect the autonomy of both events organisers and sporting organisations generally.
There are no legislative provisions that require event organisers to seek sanction from Ireland’s NGBs nor are there legislative requirements that compel those NGBs to grant sanction.

That statement would appear to be at odds with what the former junior Sports Minister Michael Ring, who said in the wake of the death of fighter Joao Carvalho that MMA should have an NGB.

“The NGB, like all other NGBs that are recognised by Sport Ireland, would be responsible for setting and overseeing appropriate standards, including standards relating to safety and governance.”


Boston College Florida State Football Boston College running back Jon Hilliman runs the ball in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Florida State in 2014. Source: Mark Wallheiser

The IAFA, for its part, says that IAEL applied for sanctioning and was refused after failing to pass health, safety and insurance requirements. A separate dispute over a €15,000 bill for a bespoke sanctioning contract remains ongoing between the parties.

This bill was accrued after IAEL entered the sanctioning process. IAFA claims they signed a document agreeing to pay any legal fees incurred, but have yet to do so, leading to interest on the fees.

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IAFA has today released a statement outlining their issues with the game.

An IAFA spokesperson said the Department’s stance would have repercussions across sport.

The Department have undermined all NGBs and the regulation of all sporting events by their actions. We are concerned that promoters have been given carte blanche to run events.

“The IAFA would expect fellow NGBs to respect the NGB system and we would expect Sport Ireland and the Department to take into account compliance with NGB codes of conduct, which exists to protect safety and governance in sport, when it comes to the payment of grants.”

A spokesperson for the game, which takes place next Saturday, said they had hoped to engage with IAFA, but this had not been possible.

“It was always hoped that the organisers could work IAFA but has not been possible.

“We are looking forward to the game going ahead and being a success.”

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

Read: Deadline passes and Ireland’s €56 million American football game is still unsanctioned

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Paul Hosford


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