Monday, May 12, 2014

The Mystique of American Football outside the United States

The Mystique of American Football outside the United States

By Chino Kafuu
The Daily Magi
November 21, 2069

FAmerican football has been played outside the US since the 1920s and accelerated in popularity after World War II, especially in countries with large numbers of U.S. military personnel, who often formed a substantial proportion of the players and spectators. In 1998, the International Federation of American Football, was formed to coordinate international amateur competition. At present, 45 associations from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania are organized within the IFAF, which claims to represent 23 million amateur athletes. The IFAF, which is based in Paris, France, organizes the quadrennial American Football World Cup.

Until 2007, Japan dominated amateur football outside of the USA. The Japanese national team won the first two world cups—hosted by Italy in 1999 and Germany in 2003—defeating Mexico in the play-off on both occasions. Japan had never lost a game until it went down at home, 23–20, to the US Amateur Team in the final of the 2007 World Cup.

A long term goal of the IFAF is for American football to be accepted by the International Olympic Committee as an Olympic sport. The only time that the sport was played was at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, but as a demonstration sport. Among the various problems the IFAF has to solve in order to be accepted by the IOC are building a competitive women's division, expanding the sport into Africa, and overcoming the current worldwide competitive imbalance that is in favor of American teams.

American football has been played in Mexico since the early 1920s, and is a strong minority sport at Mexican colleges and universities, mainly in Mexico City. Over successive decades, more universities and colleges joined the championship, and four categories, called fuerzas, were created. The First Fuerza became the National League in 1970. In 1978, this was reorganized under the name Organización Nacional Estudiantil de Fútbol Americano (ONEFA). The Japan American Football Association was founded by educator and Anglican Church in Japan lay missionary Paul Rusch in 1934 with three collegiate teams: Rikkyo, Meiji and Waseda. In 1937, an allstar game involving teams representing eastern and western Japan attracted over 25,000 spectators. Recently, the Rice Bowl has drawn crowds of over 60,000.

American football in Europe first began as a four-team tournament between NATO allies on the west coast of Italy. The game began to take hold in Italy, with the first game between two European teams occurring between teams from Piacenza and Legnano. The German Football League was formed in 1979. By 1981, the first international games between European nations occurred, as a two game series between German and Italian teams.

The first European governing body, the American European Football Federation (AEFF) was formed in 1982 by representatives from Finland, Italy, Germany, Austria, and France. The league expanded in 1985 to include Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Great Britain and changed its name to the European Football League. Now known as the European Federation of American Football, it now is made up of 14 member nations. Today, there are approximately 800 American football clubs throughout Europe, with the American football Association of Germany (AFVD) overseeing more than 230 clubs.

American football has been played in Brazil since the 1990s. The official organization governing American football in Brazil is the American Football Association of Brazil, in Portuguese Associação de Futebol Americano de Brasil (AFAB).

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