Statement on behalf of Irish American Events Ltd re the Aer Lingus College Football Classic

Irish American Events Ltd (IAEL), the organisers of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, 3rd September, is outraged by the claims made by the Irish American Football Association (IAFA) on their website yesterday.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) game in Dublin between Boston College and Georgia Tech is being conducted in accordance with the rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), who is the governing body for all US college athletics. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a member-led organisation dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes. The ACC and the NCAA has officially confirmed that:

“Provided the game is played in accordance with NCAA rules of play, there is no sanctioning process that needs to take place.”

The three high school games featuring teams from Atlanta, New Jersey and Florida, scheduled for Friday 2nd September at Donnybrook Stadium, will be played in accordance with the rules of the NFHS, the National Federation of State High Schools.

The claims by the IAFA regarding insurance are all factually incorrect. Copies of the insurance policies were shared with IAFA on July 22nd 2016. They (IAFA) have chosen not to respond or discuss any concerns they may have with the broker.

The claims by the IAFA regarding the High School games taking place at Donnybrook Stadium on Friday, 2nd September are also factually incorrect and without foundation. Irish American Events are working closely with An Garda Siochana, on all aspects of Child Protection and are fully compliant with the Irish Sports Council Code of Ethics (child protection) guidelines and statutory vetting legislation.

All insurances and mandatory legal requirements are in place to the complete satisfaction of all stakeholders involved.

For the IAFA to suggest that they are “very supportive” of attracting overseas events to Ireland is nonsense. The behavior of a number of board members of the IAFA has been disruptive, unhelpful and, in the opinion of Irish American Events, unethical and not in keeping with how a National Governing Body should behave. This behavior is not isolated to the 2016 games – legal threats still remain against the United States Naval Academy from the 2012 game with the University of Notre Dame.

Irish American Events has no issue in recognising IAFA as the governing body for American Football in Ireland. From the very outset, back in 2015, we have sought to work with them to support their activities in promoting American Football in Ireland. Numerous meetings and correspondences took place between Irish American Events and IAFA throughout 2015 and 2016, at which IAFA set out their conditions and demands for their approval, for the staging of the games. These discussions continued despite arbitrary deadlines set down and shifting demands and threats by IAFA throughout the process.

These discussions included having adequate insurance, health & safety measures, anti-doping protocols, child protection guidelines and compliance with all statutory and legal matters. Irish American Events confirmed to IAFA in June 2016 that all these issues were being complied with and confirmed to IAFA that they will be fully indemnified from all risks, including evidence of insurance.

In addition, IAFA also demanded a corporate box for 30 people, a combined fee of €22,000 to cover both the College and High School Games, 1,000 tickets at 20% discount, €10,000 worth of advertising in the Game Programme and the right to sit on various organising committees. Irish American Events were not in a position to accede to these demands.

Surprisingly, IAFA have made no requests for any interaction with traveling football coaches and teams on behalf of their members, an experience that would significantly advance their competence and experience in this unique sport.

On 22nd June 2016, following consultation with Senior Counsel, Irish American Events formally withdrew their application for sanction. Within the same correspondence, Irish American Events acknowledged IAFA as a voluntary body and that the company remained willing to pay reasonable legal costs that IAFA incurred in the process. To date, neither IAFA nor their solicitor has replied to the correspondence. Instead, IAFA has taken the position to make numerous threats and unfounded statements to a number of third party participants and venues on both sides of the Atlantic.

It is significant that IAFA has refused mediation offers, by both Irish American Events and also as brokered by a leading legal firm action on behalf of a game-week venue.

Irish American Events’ focus is now firmly on the successful staging of the high school games in Donnybrook Stadium on Friday, September 2nd and the Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Boston College and Georgia Tech, on Saturday, September 3rd at the Aviva Stadium.

Game-Week 2016 will welcome 20,000 international visitors to Ireland between August 31st and September 4th 2016. As part of the ‘Much More than a Game’ campaign, there are twenty individual official events scheduled to take place throughout the Dublin region – the highlight being the Boston College CEO Global Forum, a gathering of 400 American, European and Irish business, academic and political leaders, at the Mansion House on Friday, 2nd September.

Despite many opportunities the Irish American Football Association has chosen not to be a part of this great event, which is a great shame.