College football showdown set to go ahead without sanction from Irish governing body

The organisers say they will adhere to the highest health and safety standards

College football showdown set to go ahead without sanction from Irish governing body

INPHO/James Crombie 

It has been confirmed that the Department of Transport will not interfere with the staging of next week’s Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Boston College and Georgia Tech in the Aviva Stadium on September 3rd.

This comes as the Irish American Football Association (IAFA), which is recognised as the national governing body, has refused to sanction the game. It did so citing concerns over health, safety and insurance requirements.

Irish American Events Ltd (IAEL) is staging the match, which is recognised by the ACC and NCAA in the US.

INPHO/Cathal Noonan

The Department of Transport and Sport says it has no legal power to interfere with the event: 

"While the Department would encourage sporting event holders to seek sanction of the relevant national governing body (NGB), we respect the autonomy of both events organisers and sporting organisations generally.

"There are no legislative provisions that require event organisers to seek sanction from Ireland’s NGBs nor are there legislative requirements that compel those NGBs to grant sanction," a spokesperson from the Department said in a statement issued to Newstalk.

The IAFA expressed its disappointment at these comments: "The Department have undermined all NGBs and the regulation of all sporting events by their actions. We are concerned that promoters have been given carte blanche to run events," it said.

The NGB cited the death of Joao Carvalho following an MMA event carried out without a governing body as highlighting the dangers associated with unsanctioned events. The IAFA says that the ACC and NCAA have no authority to sanction matches and that the International Federation of American Football has endorsed the IAFA position.

When asked to comment on the IAFA's statement - the Department reiterated its previous comments issued by a spokesperson saying it has no legal jurisdiction over the event.

Padraic O’Kane, who founded IAEL with Padraic O’Kane to bring the event to Ireland previously told The Irish Times that there is no doubt over the status of the event:

"We have no concerns about the game going ahead. There are close on 20,000 visitors coming to Ireland for that week.

"We can assure you 100%, and I can be quoted on this, that the game will be run to the highest levels of health and safety that are available. Insurances will all be correctly in place," he told the newspaper.

The event pledges to be 'Much More than a Game' and over 20 business networking events will also take place.