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American Football in Europe

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American Football has been played in Europe since the end of World War II, when the American military brought the game with them to the army bases in West Germany. Gradually the German locals began participating in the sport, and the country remains the country with the largest number of football players in Europe.


Today football is played all over Europe. The sport is regulated by EFAF (European Federation of American Football) which consists of 20 member countries, from Italy in the south to Finland in the North. The sport is steadily growing, and according to EFAF there are now 65.000 players in Europe.


Football in Europe is played by the college rule-set, which is slightly different from the professional NFL rules. Also most countries have a set limit of US players allowed on the field or roster of each team. In the EFAF club competitions (see below) a maximum of three US players are allowed, this is to prevent overuse of dominant import players.


Club competitions


The biggest club tournament in Europe is the European Football League (EFL) which crowns the Euro Bowl champion each season. It is comparable to soccer's Champions League where only the best teams from the best countries qualify to join the tournament. The game is the biggest in Europe, drawing massive interest from media and fans, with games being showed live on TV and as many as 20.000 spectators attending the final.


The tournament was first held in 1986 when the Finish team Taft Vantaa took home the trophy. Since then German, Italian, English, Dutch and Swedish teams have managed to win.


Recently Austrian teams have dominated, taking the trophy home five years in a row!


A smaller tournament is the EFAF cup which allows teams from smaller countries that did not qualify for the EFL, a chance to compete internationally. Finally there is the Challenge Cup, where only clubs from the newest members of EFAF may participate.


There are also regional tournaments such as the Atlantic Cup featuring teams from Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium. And the recently started CEFL (Central European Football League), that lets teams from Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia and Croatia face off.


European Championships 


The national teams from the European countries battle it out for the title of European champion every second year. But because of the relatively large gaps in talent, EFAF has adopted a format known from international ice hockey with an A, B and C group each holding their own tournaments. The winners of the B and C groups will move up to the next group, and the losers from A and B will drop down.


The under 19 junior national teams also face off every two years. But unlike the seniors they are not divided into groups, instead teams may have to play qualifying games to make it into the tournament.


To find out more about football in Europe visit these sites:




EFAF- the European association:




List of football teams in Europe:


European Football Teams 


Outlet Fact


In 1999 the Braunschwieg Lions played the Hamburg Blue Devils for the German Championship. A record 30.400 fans saw the Lions win 25-24; it remains the largest crowd ever for a European football game.




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Tom Landry, former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach.


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Gale Sayers, Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back.