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Flag football, declared candidate for the Los Angeles 2028 Games

A collective sport is knocking at the door of the Olympic Games. Flag football, a derivative of American football, has just been added very officially to the still imprecise list of candidates for entry into the program of the Summer Games in Los Angeles in 2028, under additional sports.

A potential winner? Possible. Contested by teams of 5 players, the discipline is not lacking in assets, especially in view of an Olympic meeting in California. Above all, his case is backed by the NFL, one of the most powerful and wealthy leagues in American professional sports.

Flag football is nominated by the NFL and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF). The two organizations unveiled this week in Birmingham (Alabama), on the sidelines of the 2022 World Games where flag football is making its debut in a multisport event, their joint project, called “Vision28“.

Frenchman Pierre Trochet, president of IFAF, explained to FrankGames strategy and ambitions.

FrancsJeux: You took advantage of the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, where flag football is entering the program, to present the “Vision28” project. What is it about ?

Pierre Trochet : Vision28 is the name of the group that will lead the flag football candidacy campaign to enter the program of the Olympic Games. It is the result of close collaboration between the IFAF and the NFL. The group is co-chaired by Troy Vincent, the executive vice president of football operations at the NFL, and myself. As its name suggests, our ambition was to integrate the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028.

What is Vision28’s strategy to enter the Olympic programme?

The first stage is played in Lausanne. We are aiming for full recognition of IFAF by the IOC. Today, our international federation enjoys only provisional recognition. We hope to achieve this first objective before the end of the year. It is a prerequisite for entering the Olympic program. But it is also part of a new dynamic of our international body, initiated during the last six months, with a development of the practice, a new governance, a reinforced calendar…

Are you already chatting with Los Angeles 2028?

We do this through interlocutor, namely the IOC in Lausanne. But we have launched a press campaign at the same time, particularly in the United States. And we are working hand in hand with the NFL, which should help us reach LA 2028. Our strategy starts from Europe, with the headquarters of the IFAF being located in Paris, but with an American version carried by the NFL.

What role does the NFL play in your Olympic campaign?

The NFL has been our premium partner since day one. But his presence at our side is not limited to this Olympic project alone. It is part of a more global development approach. The NFL’s audience is global, its fans numbering in the millions worldwide. Our partnership can help us reach these millions of fans and turn them into flag football players. The NFL also participates in the life of the IFAF, in the realization of sports and development projects. It also provides us with human and technical resources and skills, particularly for the training of coaches.

According to the IOC criteria, an additional sport must be able to attract a young audience, meet the requirement of diversity, not inflate costs and require a reduced quota of athletes. Does flag football tick all these boxes?

Not only does it tick them all, but you even just gave the definition of flag football. It is played by men and women, and even by mixed teams in certain competitions, such as the French championship for example. To play, all you need is a 100 or 200 euro ball, a 10 euro flag belt, and a pair of sneakers. Teams have only 5 players. Two or three flag courts can fit in a stadium, as in Birmingham for the 2022 World Games. As for its audience, it is very similar to that of 3×3 basketball. Generation Z, very oriented on the clip, the atmosphere, the speed.

Universality has always been a drag on American football’s Olympic ambitions…

In its NFL version, American football cannot reach the whole world. Its audience is global, but its practice cannot be, particularly because of the cost of equipment and land. Flag football, on the other hand, is suitable for all ages, all sizes, and can be played in a variety of environments: indoor halls, stadiums, outdoor grounds… There are no obstacles to its practice and development. Today, IFAF has 72 member countries, but the flag is practiced in more than 100 countries.

What is your road map to hope to enter the Los Angeles 2028 Games?

We are currently present, for the first time, at the World Games in Birmingham, with two tournaments, men’s and women’s. We will then go to Finland for the Women’s American Football World Cup, an eight-team competition. Next year will mark a new stage in our development with, for the first time, a continental flag football competition on each of the continents. At the same time, on Thursday 14 July in Birmingham, I chaired my first IFAF congress since my election as president last December. We hope to have in 2023 a response from Los Angeles 2028 to our ambition to enter the Olympic program.

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