Sixteen of the world's best flag football teams will compete for gold for the first time when The World Games 2022 begin in Birmingham, Alabama next month.
The World Games returns to the United States for the first time since 1981 and for the first time features flag football as an official event, with the tournament set to be played July 10-14. This marks a major milestone for the global growth of the popular football format, which is the cornerstone of the NFL's youth participation strategy.
Flag football joins the sports program alongside 33 other disciplines at the Olympic-style, multi-sport event, following its inclusion by the International World Games Association (IWGA) in 2020. Flag Football @TWG2022 Presented by the NFL, in partnership with the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), will feature eight men's and eight women's teams from around the world. Games will be hosted at Birmingham's historic Legion Field, creating an unrivalled backdrop to showcase the very best of the dynamic, non-contact sport.
"The World Games is a tremendous platform to showcase flag football as an exciting, competitive, dynamic game that can be played by everyone regardless of age or gender," said Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations. "Flag is one of the fastest growing sports globally and The World Games will no doubt accelerate that growth as the Flag championships inspire that football is for all."
As reigning world champions, the United States men's and women's teams have both pre-qualified for the tournament. The U.S. National Flag Football Teams are assembled and managed by USA Football, the sport's national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The remaining 14 teams earned their place through IFAF's international qualifying process. The following nations will participate in this year's games:
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"We are thrilled to have flag football join the official sports program at The World Games for the first time," said Pierre Trochet, President of IFAF. "This is a milestone in the sport's development and a fantastic opportunity to showcase flag as a truly world-class, international sport.
"We believe flag football - our fast paced, exciting, and inclusive format - is perfectly suited to this multi-sport platform. Our highly skilled men's and women's athletes will undoubtedly deliver a truly historic moment in Birmingham next month, one that ignites and inspires the next generation of players and fans, and we are delighted to work together with The World Games and NFL to make it happen."
The World Games 2022 Birmingham will take place from July 7-17. The Flag Football competition kicks off with preliminary matches July 10-11 and playoffs starting July 12. The tournament concludes with the finals on July 14, when the first-ever flag football medals of The World Games will be awarded. NFL Network will broadcast an enhanced package of the men's and women's gold medal games on July 21 with Rhett Lewis and NFL Legends Michael Robinson and Maurice Jones-Drew on the call. Bobby Taylor and Tony Richardson will be on site for the flag football competitions as honorary Legends Captains.