We all know how football around the world is what Americans know as soccer. Football, or futbol, is widely considered the most popular sport in the world by far. Soccer is followed by cricket then hockey in worldwide popularity according to SportyTell.
When it comes to the Olympics, soccer has a rich, deep history. Since 1900, men’s soccer has been a part of the games (per Football History) and the first two times were exhibition (per the International Olympic Committee). Hungary and Great Britain both sit atop the record board for having three total gold medals in the sport, per Football History, withHungary also has two more medals to boot, as well.
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“Since 1908, the sport has been held at every Olympic Games with the exception of the 1932 Los Angeles Games”, according to the International Olympic Committee, with women’s soccer being introduced to the Olympics in 1996.
When it comes to women’s soccer, the US team’s got the edge by a landslide as they’ve “won four Olympic gold medals…The (US Women’s National Team) has won more gold medals than any other participating country in the Olympics” per Goal.com.
Okay, we know football’s popularity and presence at the Olympics. So, could American football make its way, as well, to the games? We’ve seen the NFL expand to play regular season games in London and Mexico. So, you never know.
But, there could be at least flag football at the Olympic Games on the horizon.
According to an exclusive Reuters’ Steve Keating and Amy Tennery report, the “National Football League is throwing its muscle and capital behind a push to get flag football onto the 2028 Los Angles Olympics programme as it looks to grow its global footprint.”
Reuters reports that “(t)he International Federation of American Football (IFAF) will make the formal pitch to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) but, as with most things Olympic, the heavy lifting will be done behind the scenes.”
“Flag can be a path to tackle (football) for some people and it excites countries and communities in the pursuit of Olympic medals so for those reasons we think it is great,” Damani Leech, ‘NFL International chief operating officer’ said to Reuters. “It is a way for people to connect with the game and obviously LA 2028 presents a lot of unique factors that are interesting in terms of location in the U.S. and timing.”
If the International Olympic Committee is looking to see if the sport will be a success, they have these numbers to look at, as Reuters reports:
“The sport is played at professional and recreational levels by men and women and will be on the programme at the 11th World Games being held next year in Birmingham, Alabama…The IFAF, which is pushing a five-on-five small-field version of the game for the Olympics, currently has 72 member nations all of which have flag teams and with nearly 70% having organised leagues.”Reuters’ Steve Keating and Amy Tennery: ‘EXCLUSIVE Olympics-NFL looks to score touchdown with Olympic flag football’
Here’s what having flag football in the Olympics could look like with countries competing against each other in the sport:
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