IOC Gives Provisional Recognition to FIL, Is it Too Soon for Olympic Lacrosse?

Photo Credit Oded Karni

On Friday morning, it was announced that the IOC had given provisional recognition to the FIL at their IOC executive board meeting in Tokyo, Japan. This is just another huge step towards lacrosse being added in the Olympic Games.

Per the IOC’s release, the FIL will now enter a three-year recognition period where they will be able to receive funding from the IOC. The FIL can also apply for developmental programs.

The FIL was formed in 2008 when the men’s and women’s governing bodies came together. Since then, the FIL has made huge strides in international growth. Being given provisional recognition by the IOC is the biggest leap lacrosse has ever taken.

There are still many steps to becoming a sport in the Olympic Games, which will likely be 2028 in Los Angeles, but lacrosse is on the right track. Lacrosse will be added in the 2021 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. That will be the first time both men’s and women’s will be played at the World Games as women were present in 2017.

Lacrosse was in the 1904 and 1908 Olympics as a medal sport. The only two countries playing lacrosse were the USA and Canada during those games. In 1928, 1932, and 1948 lacrosse was a demonstration sport with the USA, Canada, and Great Britain participating.

Many people love the idea of lacrosse being added as an Olympic sport as it would be huge for the game. Lacrosse in the Olympics would mean that the highest governing body of international sports recognized and played lacrosse. The international growth of the sport would continue with the support of the Olympic games and lacrosse would be on the path to growing even more than it has.

While there are a lot of positives that come with lacrosse being in the Olympics many overlook these very real and true facts that are in fact negatives.

First off, I should say that I personally don’t want lacrosse in the 2028 Olympics, unless changes happen very fast and before that time.

The FIL has designated regions and for the next FIL World Championships in 2022 countries will have to qualify. That will be the same for the Olympics as there are qualifiers of some capacity. Now, if that will be in place for lacrosse is unknown, but if it will some of these issues may not be that big of a deal, but still notable.

Lacrosse and the FIL are much different than the IOC and National Olympic Committee (NOC). The FIL currently recognizes five countries that are not recognized by the NOC and thus can’t compete in the Olympics. That is a big issue and I know the FIL has looked into it and continues to try and find solutions.

The countries that compete in the FIL but can’t compete in the Olympics include the Iroquois Nationals, Scotland, Wales, and England. Taiwan is in the Olympics but recognized as Chinese Taipei. Puerto Rico is recognized as a dependent territory by the NOC.

Obviously, the biggest one here is the Iroquois Nationals. If lacrosse is added to the Olympics and they aren’t able to play under their own flag then there shouldn’t be any Olympic lacrosse. The only way that it’s possible for the Iroquois to play in the Olympics, at this point in time, is under the Olympic flag. And we all know how disrespectful and wrong that is.

The Iroquois created this great game, and no international lacrosse tournament should be played without them playing under their flag and traveling with their passports.

The issue with Scotland, Wales, and England is that they would all be combined into the United Kingdom. I’m not sure how to open Scottish, Welsh, or English players would be to all playing as one, but they do it in everything else. That might not be as big of an issue but still a loss in the number of teams allowed to participate for sure.

Yes, it is great news that lacrosse is being recognized by the IOC in any way. It means the game is growing and lacrosse could be in the Olympics soon, most likely by 2028.

Despite all the good news, there are still issues that need to be worked out before lacrosse is accepted into the Olympic Games. The biggest one being the eligibility of the Iroquois Nationals. In my opinion, there should be no Olympic lacrosse if they are not added as their own sovereign nation.

And I didn’t even bring up the dilemma surrounding box lacrosse or rule changes that would come to the field game.


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