600 Athletes Had Been Scheduled To Compete in the World Championship of Flag Football
(JERUSALEM- July 29, 2014) Beginning August 12, Jerusalem was scheduled to host the World Championships of the International Flag Football Confederation. Encompassing nearly 30 teams from around the world and featuring over 600 athletes, the Championships would have been the largest team sporting event ever held in modern Jerusalem.
The current war in Gaza has forced the cancellation of the event, representing a serious setback for the organizers and an economic blow to Jerusalem.
Below please find a statement from Steve Leibowitz, Chairman of American Flag Football in Israel:
“We were very disappointed in the decision to move the World Championship of Flag Football out of Israel. We were so close to fulfilling a dream that took about 10 years of hard work to achieve. It was so hard to convince the International Federation of American Football to have the tournament in Israel, but they finally agreed. There were 29 teams from 20 countries from all over the world signed up to come to Jerusalem August 12 – 15 in what would have been the largest team world championship ever held in Israel in any sport.”
From the time the fighting began pressure began to build to move the tournament because teams do not want to come to what they perceive to be a war zone. The rockets landing in Israel and specifically rockets aimed at Jerusalem caused great concern among the teams. The decision by the US FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) to cancel flights and the European airlines following suit, and the travel warnings issued by the US and EU made the pressure grew but the President of the IFAF Tommy Wiking from Sweden still hoped for an end to the fighting and planned to keep the tournament in Israel. UEFA’s decision to cancel soccer games in Israel and the prolonged fighting eventually forced a decision to make a move.
They decided to move the tournament to mid-September and we appealed to keep it in Israel. But the fighting kept on and last night a final decision was taken to move the tournament to Italy. It will be held in the city of Grosseto, September 11-14. Now our problem is to raise the funds needed to sent our men and women to the world championship where we have a real chance to win a medal. The problem is that we spent a great deal of money in preparations for this tournament that is nonrefundable. The disappointment in not hosting the tournament is great, but it will be that much worse if we are not able to compete.
We are reaching out to anyone who can help us in our time of need. We intended to bring great honor to Israel and now we are in dire need. Anyone wanting to help can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”