America’s pastime is no longer recognized as an Olympic sport, but the United States’ most popular game — football — could be on the verge of joining the international competition.
The International Olympic Committee gave provisional recognition to the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) on Tuesday, taking a big step in American football’s attempt at becoming an Olympic sport, according to Alex Marvez FOX Sports.
The IOC’s recognition, even on a provisional level, is a major step in incorporating football into the Olympics at some point in the near future. A vote on the sports’ inclusion as a full-fledged Olympic sport could happen as soon as 2017, and, if accepted, football could make its debut in the Olympic circuit during the 2024 Summer Games.
The IFAF has global reach, which is likely part of the appeal to the IOC, with 64 member countries from six continents already playing some form of football, whether it’s flag, beach or tackle. The NFL has also extended its international series to London, which started in 2007, through 2016, and the Buffalo Bills have an ongoing series in Toronto, which began in 2008, that i scheduled to continue through 2017.
IOC recognition should also help the IFAF with funding from national sports ministries, according to the report, and it will allow football games to be held at other international events like the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Glasgow in 2014, and the Pan-American Games, which will be held in Toronto in 2015.
Bidding for a host city for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games won’t start until 2015 and a host won’t be selected until 2017. At least seven American cities — Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington D.C. — are all at least exploring bids.