Israel set to host 10th Flag Football World Championships

Despite COVID concerns, 39 teams from 21 countries to compete in Jerusalem at Kraft Family Sports Campus

THE ISRAELI men and women should both contend next week. (photo credit: LORENZA MORBIDONI/COURTESY PHOTO CREDIT, SHANNON NUSZEN)
THE ISRAELI men and women should both contend next week.
(photo credit: LORENZA MORBIDONI/COURTESY PHOTO CREDIT, SHANNON NUSZEN)

Israel will host 39 teams from 21 countries at the 10th Flag Football World Championships at the Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem next week.

Both men’s and women’s teams will compete for world titles and a spot in the 2022 World Games during the three-day tournament, which takes place December 6-8.

“I am proud to bring an international football championship to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital,” said Steve Leibowitz, President of American Football in Israel (AFI), and head of Israel’s organizing committee.  “Israel has tackled its covid-related challenges and is ready to provide a safe, exciting championship venue.  We look forward to having the home crowd help our teams reach the World Games.”

This year’s FFWC – which has a record number of teams competing – takes on added significance as the sport of flag football is included for the first time at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, thanks to the NFL.  That competition will be limited to the world’s top eight men’s and women’s flag football teams coming out of the Jerusalem tournament.

In all, some 900 players, coaches and officials are expected to gather for the event. In a message to the visiting teams, New England Patriots owner and tournament lead sponsor Robert Kraft said: “We are honored to be hosting the Flag Football World Championships at the Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem. It’s incredible to see how fast the sport has grown internationally and how competitive the games have become in recent years.  On behalf of my family, we wish all participants success during the games.  I am sure your experience in Israel will hold memories that will last a lifetime.”

 THE ISRAELI men and women should both contend next week. (credit: LORENZA MORBIDONI/COURTESY PHOTO CREDIT, SHANNON NUSZEN) THE ISRAELI men and women should both contend next week. (credit: LORENZA MORBIDONI/COURTESY PHOTO CREDIT, SHANNON NUSZEN)

Kraft is a long-time supporter of American football in Israel and donor of the Kraft Family Sports Campus.

“The Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem is fast becoming an iconic venue for flag football, and I look forward to seeing the world’s finest flag players come together for what will undoubtedly be a great event,” said IFAF president Richard MacLean. “Not only is it an honor to be crowned IFAF Flag Football World Champions, this tournament will provide an incredible incentive and unique opportunity for teams to secure a place at the World Games.”

The City of Jerusalem is partnering with AFI to bring the international competition to Israel’s capital, and is “proud to do so, particularly in light of the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic,” said  Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion. “Jerusalem is proud to host the first Flag Football World Championship in Israel at our state of the art Kraft Stadium, located  in Jerusalem’s Arazim Valley,” he added. “Not only was this amazing facility built to serve our citizens, it allows us to host large and significant events such as this.  I am delighted that we are able to host an array of high-level international sporting events in Israel’s capital this year. I am personally looking forward to welcoming the hundreds of athletes from around the world and wish them success - especially team Israel.”

In addition to the Kraft family, the tournament is also being sponsored by the Wilf, Kleinman, and Swieca families.

Reigning world champion Team USA is favored to win the 22-team men’s competition, with Austria (current silver medalist), Denmark (European champions), and Mexico favored for top spots.  Team Israel is currently ranked fifth. Other teams in the men’s tournament include Belarus, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, Team Neutral and Thailand.

In the women’s division, Team USA holds the World Champion title among the 18-team competition and is the pre-tournament favorite. Panama (current silver medalist), Spain (European champion) and Austria are considered medal contenders. Women’s teams include Belarus, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and Team Neutral.

The Flag Football World Championships opens Monday, December 6 at the Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem at 8 a.m., and ends with a championship game and medal ceremony on Wednesday, December 8 at 6 p.m.  All games are free and open to the public in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines.  A  complete schedule of games appears on the tournament website at www.flagworld21.com.