Jerusalem hosts Flag Football World Championship

Team USA takes gold in men’s & women’s championships in Jerusalem; Mexico’s men and women win silver.

By Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

The 10th International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Flag Football World Championships were held in Jerusalem on December 6-8, with participation of a record 39 teams from 22 countries — 18 women’s teams, 21 men’s teams.

The eight teams that scored the highest in both the men’s and women’s divisions now have a berth in the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama — the first time flag football is to be included.

Israel did not place in the top eight. Team USA finished first in both the men’s and women’s divisions, while Mexico’s men’s and women’s teams took silver medals.

In the men’s division, Panama won bronze and Austria won the bronze in the women’s division.

Nearly 900 players, coaches and officials gathered for the event, which kicked off in Jerusalem’s Kraft Family Sports Campus and finished at Teddy Stadium.

“I am proud to bring an international football championship to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital,” said Steve Leibowitz, President of American Football in Israel (AFI), the official government-recognized Federation of American Football in Israel.

“We had the largest number of countries and teams, more than double the number that participated in the last tournament,” Hallenbeck said. “This tournament is an excellent steppingstone to future international competitions, including the Olympic Games.”

Sponsors included Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport; the Jerusalem Development Authority; and the municipality, as well as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Minnesota Vikings President Mark Wilf, the Kleinman family and the Swieca family.

Scott Hallenbeck, CEO and Executive Director of USA Football and IFAF Vice President, said this was the first time Israel is hosting and won’t be the last.