World Games to feature flag football for first time ever at Birmingham 2022 event
The World Games 2022 Birmingham on Wednesday announced that flag football will join its existing lineup of 32 unique, multi-disciplinary sports.
This international multisport event features sports and disciplines not included in the Olympics. The event is typically held one year after the Olympics.
Since the 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Games in Birmingham originally scheduled for 2021 were also pushed back a year.
Wednesday’s announcement was made in partnership with the International World Games Association (IWGA), National Football League (NFL) and International Federation of American Football (IFAF).
The 2022 event in Birmingham will be the first edition of the World Games on American soil since 1981.
Hosted at historic Legion Field, flag football at the World Games 2022 Birmingham will be presented by the NFL and feature eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams from around the world.
“We are grateful that the NFL recognizes the significance that The World Games 2022 will have as the first major international sporting event in the United States coming out of this global pandemic,” stated Nick Sellers, CEO of the World Games 2022.
As the current reigning world champions, the United States men’s and women’s teams both pre-qualify. The remaining teams will be selected through the IFAF qualifying process.
“The world is longing to reconnect, and Birmingham, Alabama will play a pivotal role in that reconnection,” Sellers added. “The NFL’s partnership sends a signal to every company in the world that associating their brand with this special event is important for the world to see.”
The World Games 2022 Birmingham will take place July 7-17, 2022, and will generate an estimated $256 million in economic impact.
“Football is a staple of Southern sports and will be a welcome addition to The 2022 World Games lineup,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Non-contact sports like flag football are a great way to open up competition to all skill levels. That type of accessibility and inclusion is what The World Games is all about, providing incredible experiences and lasting memories for participants and spectators to enjoy. Birmingham can’t wait for the world to join us in 2022.”
NFL FLAG is an NFL licensed property of more than 1,600 locally-operated leagues and over 500,000 youth athletes across all 50 states. NFL FLAG has regular participation from more than 3 million youth and adults in the United States.
“The addition of flag football to the World Games brings tremendous global value as the NFL looks to expand the NFL FLAG brand worldwide,” commented Izell Reese, executive director of NFL FLAG. “With support from NFL Global Ambassador and NFL FLAG Chairman Russell Wilson, we’ve committed to creating more opportunities for athletes around the world to play flag, and we look forward to teaming up with the City of Birmingham and the World Games Committee to share the NFL FLAG experience with even more athletes and fans.”
“We are so excited to bring flag football to the international stage during The World Games 2022 in Birmingham,” added Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Super Bowl champion and NFL FLAG chairman Russell Wilson. “Flag football expands the sport of football by providing easier access to our game for men and women from all walks of life. With a huge international platform like this, we’ll create opportunities for kids and adults around the world to experience and learn the game of football, while helping grow the sport’s global popularity.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn