Top European athletes were invited to attend the U.S. Army All-American Bowl events in San Antonio,
Texas this past January. The Bowl features the top 90 high school football players in the United States.
For 12 years, the Bowl has been the biggest showcase of U18 football talent in the world. The game is
televised nationally and in 80 countries and is attended by more than 40,000 fans. More than 1,500 top
athletes attend this annual showcase from various age groups. Alumni of the Bowl include Mark Sanchez
(Jets), Adrian Peterson (Vikings) Tim Tebow (Jets), Andrew Luck (Colts), Reggie Bush (Dolphins),
Ndamukong Suh (Lions) and Demarco Murray (Cowboys).
For the last two years, we have invited some of the best athletes from the world including Canadian
athletes and top European athletes to play and compete in related all-star games or compete in our
combine events for underclassmen. These athletes compete before hundreds of scouts. Several
international athletes have received scholarships or scholarship interest from major universities.
This year, we added an entire European team to participate in international competition in Texas. These
athletes were hand-selected through our FBU international division, which features former NFL coaches
who traveled to Europe to provide clinics and train young football athletes in Germany, Austria,
Netherlands, England, Scotland and Belgium.
Several of the governing bodies that currently belong to IFAF were initially supportive of our overall
efforts. Several requested to work with us as a “development partner” to help train their football coaches
and train their top players for international competition.
Until this year, there has never been any objection by the International Federation of American Football
(IFAF) in any form. In fact, we have never received any communication of any kind from IFAF directed
at myself, our staff, or our company. In fact, we invited several representatives from governing
provinces/governing bodies to attend our U.S. Army Bowl last year in San Antonio. Many attended and
many expressed interest in supporting our efforts to grow the Bowl internationally.
To say the least, we were surprised and disappointed to hear that IFAF threatened its athletes with
sanctions if their athletes played in our events in San Antonio this year. Unfortunately, our company
never received anything official or unofficial from IFAF or any of the affected governing bodies.
When we contacted an IFAF official about the sanctions, he responded that IFAF passed the policy in the
summer at an executive meeting. He suggested that it was designed to keep lesser reputable companies
from entering the market and not intended to affect high quality events like ours.
There is no doubt that the IFAF is familiar with our Bowl, as USA Football participated in our Bowl a
few years ago. Over the past 12 years, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have also sent
representatives to participate in our Bowl and speak with our athletes. Despite the comment from the
IFAF executive, IFAF denied sanctioning the Bowl but invited us to apply for sanctioning in January after
Upon request, we were sent the IFAF policy by IFAF and shared such policy with the invited athletes to
explain the option to participate or not to participate. Very few were aware of the policy and several
athletes were unaware of the existence of their governing body.
All athletes and parents were sent a waiver so they could fully understand the consequences of
participation in our Bowl events and all were invited to contact their governing body to discuss the matter.
Almost all the athletes expressed a strong interest in participating and signed the waiver. A few chose not
We understand that IFAF runs its own international events and has been doing so for several years. Most
of the top athletes in our country who play in our Bowl at the U18 and U15 level typically choose not to
play in their events for variety of reasons. Mainly, it is simply not the biggest platform to showcase their
ability. Although we train close to 9,000 athletes every year including the majority of top U18 and U15
talent, we have never discouraged any athlete from playing in an IFAF event. Those that have participated
in IFAF events have reported positive experiences.
In the spirit of IFAF and most other governing bodies, we believe that international competition is better
for the growth of the athlete and we encourage play in competitive settings, no matter who organizes it,
provided that it is done in a safe, organized and affordable environment.
When FBU started its international play a few years ago, we decided to not charge athletes any
registration fee for participation. We also worked hard to provide free uniforms, helmets, venues and
practice facilities including the Alamodome (an indoor turf facility that seats 60,000 people) for games.
We believe the opportunity to play in San Antonio during Bowl Week allows international athletes the
chance to play against top talent, compete on an exciting stage and experience an incredible week of
football in a very affordable way. All of the international athletes who traveled to San Antonio this
January played in two games, attended seminars by former and current NFL athletes and enjoyed a Bowl
week complete with a private concert with other top athletes.
We were saddened and disappointed to learn about the IFAF policy. We are at a loss as to why IFAF
would prevent its top athletes from competing on the biggest U18 stage in the world, especially when
uniforms, helmets, indoor facilities and lunches are provided to athletes for free and they are not charged
a registration fee for competition.
We take no issue with the IFAF executive who stated that this policy was not intended to stop first class
events like ours but to protect athletes from low quality events. Despite that statement, IFAF still chose to
not sanction this event. Thus, they placed their athletes in a difficult position.
After reading the IFAF web site and mission statement, which promotes high level international
competition, the education of coaches and the development and growth of American football, we believed
we were supporting that very mission and its core values.
Thus, we are at a loss at IFAF’s actions and decision. I do appreciate the governing bodies connected to
IFAF who promised their athletes that they would not impose any sanctions for participation. I also
appreciate IFAF expressly allowing international athletes to compete in our combine activities in San
Antonio. It also appears that USA Football has approached several of the same athletes who participated
in our events in San Antonio to play for Team USA. Given those efforts, I hope that indicates a change of
heart and policy for the rest of the IFAF countries in relation to their players.
Lastly, although we are disappointed with IFAF’s policy, no one within our company is at odds with its
overall mission to grow and promote American football around the world. This statement should not
serve as a general critique of football’s governing bodies around the world. We work with many of them
and have official and unofficial relationships with several. In every country, they are a well needed
organization which promotes football and good standards. They are led by passionate people who love
football just like we do.
President, All-American Games