Saturday 18 January 2020

College football game to go ahead as planned despite bitter dispute

Boston College cheerleaders Elizabeth Pehota and Matthew Keemon with mascot Baldwin Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Boston College cheerleaders Elizabeth Pehota and Matthew Keemon with mascot Baldwin Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

John Greene

A high-profile college football game will go ahead as scheduled at the Aviva Stadium despite a bitter dispute between the organisers and an Irish-based sporting organisation.

The Aer Lingus College Football Classic, between Boston College and Georgia Tech on September 3, will be broadcast coast to coast in the US by ESPN and is estimated to be worth up to €50m to the Irish economy. Close to 40,000 fans will attend the game, with up to half of those expected to travel to Dublin from overseas.

Six leading US high schools are also travelling to Ireland to play a tournament in Donnybrook Stadium.

However, the Irish American Football Association [IAFA], which is the national governing body for the sport in Ireland, has launched a series of objections to the games going ahead next week.

A statement published on its website has claimed the games have not been "sanctioned" by the IAFA. It also alleges that the organisers, a joint venture known as Irish American Events Limited [IAEL], do not have adequate insurance for the games and, in relation to the High Schools games, that there has been a breach of child protection guidelines.

The IAFA is also understood to have communicated this directly to the schools and to Philip Browne, chief executive of the IRFU, because of the games being hosted by the Aviva Stadium and Donnybrook.

Other parties in the US and Ireland have also been contacted.

It's understood, though, that the IRFU is satisfied that all the required paperwork for games in both stadia is in order and has confirmed it is happy for the games to proceed.

"All insurances and mandatory legal requirements are in place to the complete satisfaction of all stakeholders involved," said a spokesman for IAEL today.

The promoters maintain they have no issue in recognising IAFA as the governing body for American Football in Ireland and the parties entered negotiations about the hosting of this event in early 2015.

The Irish Independent understands that organisers have now complained to Minister for Sport Shane Ross that the actions of the IAFA are undermining this year's event and the prospect of future similar events.

Aside from the game, a series of sporting, cultural and business events have been scheduled to promote Irish-American relations, under the umbrella, 'Much More Than A Game'. A spokesperson for the event said all games and events are proceeding as planned.

Irish Independent

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