The Iroquois Nationals are headed to the men's lacrosse competition at The World Games 2022 following a remarkable gesture from Ireland.
Despite qualifying for the tournament, Ireland Lacrosse pulled out of the competition after hearing the Iroquois Nationals were denied a spot in the field by the International World Games Association.
The World Games, a multi-sport competition played every four years, was initially scheduled for this summer in Birmingham, Ala., but was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. Only eight lacrosse teams were selected for the tournament based on finishing places at the 2018 World Championships, where the Iroquois came in third and Ireland took 12th.
However, the Iroquois Nationals were initially excluded from the International World Games since they are not a sovereign nation and don't have an Olympic Committee. But lacrosse's roots trace back to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which consists of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora Nations. The Nations invented the sport and participate in international competitions as an independent team, the Iroquois Nationals.
On Aug. 14, World Lacrosse, The International World Games Association and The World Games 2022 Birmingham Organizing Committee reversed course and issued a joint statement confirming "teams representing the Haudenosaunee Nation" would be eligible to compete at the World Games, pending further qualification.
"This will require further agreement from other organizations involved in international sport, which World Lacrosse will seek to obtain," the statement said.
Ireland Lacrosse felt enraged by the decision against the Iroquois Nationals and opted last week to give up their spot at the World Games.
"It's simply the right thing to do," Michael Kennedy, chief executive officer of Ireland Lacrosse, told U.S. Lacrosse Magazine. "We are a proud member of World Lacrosse and we recognize the importance of The World Games to the continued growth of our sport. As much as our players would have been honored to compete, we know the right thing is for the Iroquois Nationals to represent our sport on this international stage."
Last Friday, World Lacrosse received "letters of no objection" from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, U.S. Lacrosse and the Canadian Lacrosse Association, clearing the pathway for the Iroquois Nationals to compete in Alabama. Both the men's and women's teams representing the Haudenosaunee Nation will be eligible to compete if they qualify for the criteria set by World Lacrosse and approved by The International World Games Association.