Flag football has been added to the World Games programme ©Football Canada

Flag football has been added to the programme for the 2022 World Games in American city Birmingham.

The move comes after a partnership with the National Football League (NFL), which has signed-on as a presenting sponsor of the multi-sport event.

Matches will be played at Birmingham's Legion Field and will be presented by the NFL, with eight men's and eight women's sides involved.

Hosts United States have automatically qualified for both events as the reigning men's and women's world champions, while the remaining sides will be chosen through a International Federation of American Football (IFAF) qualifying process.

Thirty-two other sports are already on the schedule for the event, which gathers together non-Olympic disciplines.

Flag football is the fourth invitational sport to be picked, alongside wheelchair rugby, lacrosse and duathlon.

Birmingham was due to host next year but the Games were moved to 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic, which moved the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to 2021 and caused a clash of dates.

"We are grateful that the NFL recognises the significance that The World Games 2022 will have as the first
major international sporting event in the United States coming out of this global pandemic," said Nick
Sellers, the event's chief executive.

"The world is longing to reconnect, and Birmingham, Alabama will play a pivotal role in that reconnection. 

"The NFL's partnership sends a signal to every company in the world that associating their brand with this special event is important for the world to see."

Over the next two years, the NFL will promote The World Games across its platforms.

"Being a part of the sports programme in The World Games 2022 formalises flag football as an international
sport, which promotes the values and benefits of the game to fans around the world," said Troy Vincent,
the NFL's executive vice-president of football operations. 

"Flag football affords men and women, boys and girls, of all ages, body type, and athletic skill the opportunity to enjoy the values, fun and competitive environment that only football offers."

Richard MacLean, the President of IFAF, added: "We are delighted to confirm the official collaboration with the International World Games Association and the Birmingham Organising Committee for The World Games 2022, where we will see flag football on a global multi-sport stage for the very first time.

"The great thing about flag football is that it appeals to every level in the sport. 

"This dynamic and exciting sport is as accessible to children as it is to adults at a grassroots level and we hope that the elite players taking part at The World Games will be a catalyst for global growth, inspiring a new generation of football participants and talent around the world."