Everything you need to know about American football in Europe

Football – “American football” in the rest of the world – originated in the United States and, as the name suggests, is a traditional North American sport. So much so that it’s almost non-existent on the other side of the pond, any pond – association football (football, called “football” in the rest of the world) dominates everywhere, from the media to the sports betting, online shows and streams. This does not mean that there is no American football in Europe. On the contrary: the sport not only has an international governing body, but it also has a Super Bowl-style final.

Board of directors

IFAF Europe is a member of the International Federation of American Football which organizes two major competitions: the European Championship (for men’s national teams) and the European Junior Championship (for 16 to 19 year olds). The Federation has 12 full members and nearly a dozen associate and allied members.

The European American Football Championship is the highest level tournament in Europe that also serves as a qualifier for the IFAF World Cup. It is held every four years (the next one should take place in 2022). Finland holds the most titles (five of them) and France is the most recent champion.

Clubs and tournaments

The NFL plans to enter Europe with the creation of a franchise in London, UK. It will either be formed by expansion or by relocation. Outside of this proposed London-based squad, there are a few that are independent from the NFL, with some of the more established playing in Germany.

German Football League

The German Football League (GFL) was founded in 1979 with rules built around those applicable in the NCAA. The league has a total of 16 teams, broken down by location (north and south divisions) and performance (first and second tier league).

The GFL season culminates with the German Bowl, the national championship final. So far, the German Bowl is in its 40th edition, with the last game played in 2019 (the 2020 game has been suspended for obvious reasons). The Braunschweig-based New Yorker Lions have the most titles – 12 of them – to their name.


Since 2014, the best clubs in Europe have been competing in the BIG6 European Football League (BIG6) (before that it was the final of the European Football League – EFL). It’s not a competition for national teams but for clubs, a bit like the NFL. The six best teams in Europe (or better said, the best four, since the 2018 season) compete in a tournament that culminates with Eurobowl, the trophy game of BIG6.

The New Yorker Lions of Germany are the team with the most Eurobowl titles – 6 wins since the tournament started in 1986.

The European Football League

The European Football League (ELF) is a brand new professional American football league in Europe, the first since the demise of NFL Europe in 2007. At present, the league has only eight teams from Germany, d ‘Spain and Poland, with plans to expand to 20 teams from across Europe.

We are in the first ELF season – it started in June and will end in September, with a league match staged in Dusseldorf, Germany. At the moment there are six German teams, one Spanish team and one Polish team competing for the title.

An All-Star Game is scheduled for the week following the end of the season, with the ELF’s top players against the Men’s National Football Team.

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