European American Football

The history of European American Football dates back at least to the First World War and the tours by American Servicemen. From 1972 onwards there have been attempts by the National Football League (NFL) and other Professional American Football Leagues to establish Professional American Football in Europe. while none of these attempts have so far been successful it has led to numerous leagues all over Europe played by Europeans.

There have been European Championships (for National Teams) since 1983 and likewise the Eurobowl (for Club Champions) since 1984. Regional Champions Leagues such as the Atlantic Cup which Irish teams entered have also been competed for since the 1980s. The first National Leagues were in Italy (1977), Germany (1979) and Finland (1980) and there are now either teams or leagues everywhere even including such small countries as Luxembourg and Iceland, except Greece and a few small countries.

This Page is organised as follows:

  1. European Football Leagues (Major & AAA – Levels 0-1) – European League of Football, East European Super League, National Football League Europe League, American Football League of Europe, World League of American Football, Intercontinental Football League
  2. United States Professional Leagues in Europe (Global, Major and Minor) – National Football League International, American Bowl, United States Football League in Europe, Intercontinental Football League
  3. United States Armed Forces in Europe Football Leagues (WWI, WWII, Cold War) – USAFE, USAREUR, ETO, AEFFL
  4. European Internationals (IFAFE, EFAF, EFL) – European Championships, International Friendlies
  5. European Club Internationals (AAA & AA – Levels 1-2) – Eurobowl, European Cups.
  6. Regional European Cups (AA & A – Levels 2-3) – Western European Cups (Atlantic Cup, Charleroi Trophy, Four Nations Cup), Northern European Cups (NEFL, Scandinavian Cup), Central European Cups (CEFL, Challenge Cup)
  7. European National Leagues – Britain (British-wide Leagues and England)
  8. European National Leagues – Celtic Leagues (Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Galicia)
  9. European National Leagues – Scandinavian Leagues (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland)
  10. European National Leagues – German Leagues (GFL and Regionalligas, German State Leagues)
  11. European National Leagues – Central European Leagues (Austria, Switzerland, BeNeLux, Belgium, Netherlands, Flanders)
  12. European National Leagues – Southern European Leagues (Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Catalonia),
  13. European National Leagues – East European Leagues (Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary),
  14. European National Leagues – South East European Leagues (Alpe-Adria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania)

European Football Leagues (Major & AAA – Levels 1-2)

After the US Air Force & Army Leagues, the National Football League set about promoting the NFL in Europe. In 1970 the film M*A*S*H saw the first mainstream exposure of American Football in Europe with its climactic Football game at the end. Immediately following this there were expressions of interest from Europeans about setting up a League, and what followed was the Intercontinental Football League, which was to feature 6 teams, including the Rome Gladiators, owned by Bruno Beneck, the director of the most popular TV Sports Show in Italy, who had successfully introduced Baseball 20 years earlier. The League never got off the ground due to the oil crisis and the spectre of Terrorism, but the IFL continued to promote the game, playing a game in 1972 in Paris featuring NFL players, as well as bringing College teams and Semi-Pro Teams from 1976-1978 to play a best-of-5 European Championship.

TV stations started showing American Football in the late-1970s and early 1980s and the first Leagues sprang up, including the Rome Gladiators in Bruno Beneck’s Italy. By 1986 the National Football League had begun to play Pre-Season games in London, Barcelona, Berlin and Dublin. The European audiences soon wanted more so the World League of American Football, featuring 3 European teams, 6 American and one Canadian, was started in 1991. It lasted two seasons before being shelved by the NFL due to the lack of interest from American fans in a Development League. The American Football League of Europe, which ran from 1994-1995 filled in the gap in Pro Football, with its mix of start-up teams and teams from the European National Leagues bolstered by American imports.

The World League returned in 1995 as a 6-team Europe-only League and was renamed the NFL Europe League in 1998. After initial success, attendances dwindled – the fans wanted an NFL franchise – so in 2007 the NFL folded the League and focused on promoting the NFL in Europe through the NFL International Series – starting with one NFL Regular Season game a year played in London, growing to 4-per-year by 2020, with the stated intention of putting a team in London permanently by 2022.

European League of Football Logo
European League of Football Logo

[1] European League of Football Facebook Page (2021) Profile Picture, February 4, 2021 [Internet] Available from: https://www.facebook.com/europeanleagueoffootball/photos/a.100150555247238/159345569327736/ [Accessed 27 April 2021]

About European Football Leagues

The First attempts at creating a European American Football League were in the 1970s following the hit film M*A*S*H and its climactic ending featuring an American Football game which intrigued European audiences.

Following on from this a couple of failed start-ups led in 1991 to the National Football League (NFL) creating the World League of American Football (WLAF) as a Development League. After two years with teams in USA, Canada and Europe it was shelved and returned in 1995 as a Europe-only league which itself was shelved in 2007 in order to promote the NFL itself in Europe through the International Series of NFL regular season games in London.

Following a number of low-key European Leagues, based primarily in Central and Eastern Europe between 2007 and 2019, the European League of Football in 2021 became the latest big-time Professional Football League in Europe, retaining the rights to the old WLAF / NFLE team names.

United States Football League Logo
USFL Logo

Picture Credit: [4] Sports Logos History (2018) USFL Logo 1983-1985 [Internet] Available from: https://sportslogohistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/united_states_football_league.png [Accessed 31 December 2019]

United States Armed Forces in Europe Leagues

Among the earliest verifiable American Football Leagues or Associations in Europe are the American Expeditionary Force Football League of WWI which was played in France at the conclusion of the War. There was a European Theater of Operations Football Championship (WWII) in Northern Ireland in 1942, which spread to England and Wales in 1943-1944. Following WWII, the United States found itself almost immediately in a War with Communist Russia, and American Football Leagues were set up in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain & Greece (The United States Air Force in Europe – USAFE – Football League & United States ARmy EURope Football League – USAREUR) which ran right to the end of the Cold War.  One USAREUR League, the Northern Italian League, became the genesis of a National League in Italy featuring Homegrown teams.

World War I & II

AEFFL (1914-1919); ETO (1940-1945)

World War II (UK & North Africa – Army & Air Force)

European Theater of Operations Championship 1942-1944

ETO Football Championship (Seasons):

Autumn 1942 Spring 1943 Autumn 1943 Spring 1944 Autumn 1944

World War I (France – Navy & Army)

American Expeditionary Force Football League 1918-1919

AEFFL (Seasons): 1918 1919

Picture Credit: [14] Belfast Blitzers | Facebook (2019) Photo 22 August 2019 [Internet] Available from: https://www.facebook.com/belfastblitzers/photos/pcb.2260513057393170/2260507127393763/?type=3&theater [Accessed 23 August 2019]

European Internationals

The First European Championships for European National teams took place in 1983, there have also been tours by European teams to USA and American and Canadian teams to Europe.

EFAF Logo
EFAF Logo

Picture Credit: [1] American Football International (2013) EFAF Logo [Internet] Available from: http://www.americanfootballinternational.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/EFAF_logo.gif [Accessed 30 August 2017]

The first American Football European Championships were held in 1983, at Vince Lombardi Stadium, Castelgiorgio, Italy. Italy beat Finland 18-6 in the Final.

European Championships

AFEF 1983; EFL 1987-1989; EFAF A-Group 2005-2010; EFAF B-Group 2004-2009; EFAF C-Group 2003-2007;

European Championships

EFAF EC A-Group (Editions): 2010 2005

EFL EC (Editions): 1993 1989 1987

AFEF EC (Editions): 1983

European Championships B-C Groups & Qualification

EFAF EC B-Group (Editions): 2009 2004

EFAF EC C-Group (Editions): 2007 2003

EFL EC-Qualification (Editions): 1989

European Junior Championships

EFAF EJC (Editions): 1998

EFAF EJC-Qualification (Editions): 1998

European Rankings

AFI European Nations Top 22 (end-of-year Rankings): 2019

EFAF AMPRO European Top 20 (end-of-season Rankings): 1995

American Football in Russia Billboard 1989
American Football In Russia Billboard 1989

Picture Credit: [3] American Football (Russia) (2017) History in Russia | Billboard Advertising First College Game in Russia 1989 [Internet] Available from: http://www.americanfootball.ru/History/pics/billboard-1989-400×600.jpg%5BAccessed 24 December 2017]

European Club Championships (AAA & AA Levels 2-3)

Eurobowl 86 Logo

Picture Credit: [6] Wikipedia (2020) EuroBowl 86 Logo {Internet] Available from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/de/thumb/2/2c/EuroBowl86.svg/1200px-EuroBowl86.svg.png [Accessed 5 April 2020

About the Eurobowl

The first Eurobowl for European National Champions was played in 1986, governed by the European Football League. The organisation fell apart in 1992, following the expulsion of the United Kingdom, and was replaced by the European Federation of American Football which ran the Eurobowl until 2015 when the German Football League International took over running the sport for one year, being replaced in turn by the Europe Division of the International Federation of American Football, the World Governing Body.

Eurobowl (Level 1)

Eurobowl; EFL

Eurobowl Finals:

European Federation of American Football Europe Eurobowl 1986-Present

Eurobowl (Level 1)

International Federation of American Football Europe Big 6 Eurobowl 2015-present

EFAF Eurobowl

EFAF Eurobowl: 1994 1993

EFL Eurobowl (Season Results):   1992 1991 1990 1989  1988 1986

European Football Cups (Level 2)

IFAFE European Club Team Championship (Level 2)

International Federation of European Football Europe European Club Team Championship Super Final 2018-2019

European Football League (Level 2)

IFAF Europe EFL (Seasons):2016 2015

EFAF-Cup (Level 2)

EFAF Euro Cup (Level 2)

Regional European Leagues (AA & A Levels 3-4)

Below the European Football League and Eurobowl Levels are Regional Football Leagues, namely West European, North European, East European and Central European Bowls.

Western Europe

Four Nations Bowl; Charleroi Trophy; Atlantic Cup;

There has been Regional Tournaments in Western Europe since the Four Nations Bowl (England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales) in the 1990s and then the Charleroi Trophy (Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland) in the early 2000s. This was replaced by the Atlantic Cup in 2009, which ran until 2017 when the Belgian & Dutch Champions made the step up to European Football League Level.

Western European Club Championships (Level 3) (Overviews):

European Federation of American Football IFAF Europe Atlantic Cup Finals 2009-2017

European Federation of American Football Charleroi Trophy Finals 2002-2004

European Federation of American Football Dutch Invitational Tournament 1997-1998

European Federation of American Football West European Club Friendlies 1997-1998

Atlantic Cup (Seasons):

 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 

Charleroi Trophy: (Seasons)  2004 2003 2002

Anglo-Scottish Friendlies (Seasons): 1998

Dutch International Tournament (Seasons): 1997 

Four Nations Bowl (Seasons): 1992

Western European Friendlies (Seasons): 1986

Picture Credit:

Northern Europe

EFL Scandinavian Cup; NEFL;

The Scandinavian Cup, played in the 1990s between the winners of the Swedish, Norwegian, Danish & Finnish Leagues, is the oldest of the Northern European Regional Tournaments. It has since been replaced by the Northern European Football League, featuring the British Champions too.

Northern European Friendlies (Level 3): 1986

EFL Scandinavian Cup (Level 3): 1987 1988 1989 1993 1994 1995

IFAFE Northern European Football League (Level 3): 2017 2018

Picture Credit:

Central Europe

EFAF Challenge Cup; CEFL

Central European Competitions have included the Challenge Cup (EFAF Era) and more recently the Central European Football League. These competitons have pitted the Champions of – at times – Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey – against each other in two levels as it currently stands.

Central European Football League Championship (AA level 3):

Central European Football League Championship 2017-2019

CEFL Championship (Seasons): 2019 2018 2017

Central European Football League Cup (A level 4)

Central European Football League Cup 2017-2019

CEFL Cup (Seasons): 2019 2018 2017

[1] Central European Football League (2009) CEFL Logo [Internet] Available from: https://cefl.avaladsfmusic.group/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/cefl-544-180-300×99.png [Accessed 6 June 2020]

National Leagues

The earliest National Leagues in Europe were the ones in Italy (1977), Germany (1979) and Finland (1979) and have since grown to include just about every Country in Europe.

EFAF National Bowl Games (Seasons): 1994 1995

British American Football Association Logo [Ref:

American Football in Britain was first played in 1984 and at its’ height in the late-1980s had more than 200 affiliated adult teams.

While it suffered a slow retreat in the late 1990s it began to grow again the 2000s, helped in no small part by the NFL (National Football League) playing a series of Regular Season matches there every year.

There are now Adult Mens and Women’s Leagues or Youth, Junior, Cadet and Pee Wee Leagues in either full contact pads and helmets Football or non-contact Flag Football in 11on11, 9on9, 7on7, 6on6 or 5on5 variations.

See also English National Leagues and Celtic National Leagues for Country and Regional Level Leagues.

Picture Credit: [1] American Football International (2013) logo [Internet] Available from: https://www.britishamericanfootball.org/Images/logo.png [Accessed 30 August 2017]

British National Leagues

Britain (BAFA)

Britain: Level 1:

British American Football Association Britbowl Finals 1985-Present

British American Football Merit League (Seasons): 1984

British American Football Association National Leagues Premiership (Seasons): 2019

Britain Level 2:

British American Football Non-Merit Table (Seasons): 1984

Britain Level 3:

BAFA National Leagues Southern Football Conference (Seasons): 2019

Britain: Level 5:

British Gridiron Football League 1987-1988

British University Foootball

Britain: British Colleges & Universities Football:

British Collegiate American Football League 1985-1990

British Collegiate American Football League 1990-1994

British Women’s Football

British American Football Association Women’s Sapphire Series Division 1 2017-2019

British Youth Kitted

BYAFA YKL (Results): 1996 1993 1992 1991

BYAFA Youth Kitted Friendlies (Results): 1992

British Flag Football

British Senior Flag Tournaments

BSFL 5 on 5 Tournaments (Results and Match Reports):

English National Leagues

English Regional Leagues

North England: Yorkshire Rose Winter League (Seasons): 1993

North England Friendlies (Seasons): 1994

Midlands: West Bromwich Sevens Tournament (Seasons): 1993

Home Counties: Home Counties Friendlies (Seasons): 1993

South England: Christine Crawley Charity Cup (Seasons): 1993

West Country: Oxford Passball Tournament (Seasons): 1993

English Senior Flag Football

English Senior Flag League 9v9 Senior Championship 2003-2005

British Senior Flag League 9v9 Senior Championship 1998-2002

English Junior Flag Football

National Flag Football Association Youth League (Seasons): 1998

Junior Gridiron League Youth League (14-18 y.o.) (Seasons): 1997 1995 1994

Youth Flag Football (South East England) (Seasons): 1993

Junior Gridiron League Junior League (9-15 yo) (Seasons): 1995

English Youth Two Touch Football

Junior American Football League (Britain) 1988

Junior Gridiron League Youth Two Touch League (South England) (Seasons): 1993

Junior Gridiron League Junior Two Touch League (South Britain) (Seasons): 1993

Northern Junior Gridiron League Two Touch (North England) (Seasons): 1993 1994

Picture Credit: [1] American Football International (2013) logo [Internet] Available from: https://www.britishamericanfootball.org/Images/logo.png [Accessed 30 August 2017]

There have been Independent Leagues in the Celtic Countries (Regions) of Western Europe since the Thistle American Football League and North West and Welsh Counties American Football League in 1987.

National

Hand drawn map of England with regions. Colorful hand drawn vector illustration

From 1988 to 1994 the National Passball League in England played an independent schedule with teams such as the Cannock Chase Giants, a possible reference to the Celtic Archaeology of Staffordshire.

Scotland

detailed illustration of a map of Scotland with flag, eps10 vector

Copyright: unkreatives

From 1995 to 1998 the Scottish Gridiron Association broke away from the British American Football Association before remerging in 1999.

Wales

Map Of wales With Flag As Texture Isolated On Grey Background. Vector Illustration

Copyright: lumyaisweet

n 1987 there was an Independent American Football League comprising teams in North Wales and the North West of England

Brittany

Vector map of Brittany silhouette on transparency grid background

Copyright: 1enchik

From 1997 to 2005 Conference Ouest in Brittany formed an Independent Association in North West France before again merging with the Federation Francais de Football Americain

Galicia

Vector map of region of Galicia with coat of arms and location on Spanish map

Copyright: sateda

From 2012 to 2016 it was Galicia, in North West Iberia’s turn to be an Independent Association, before merging again with the Federation Espanola de Football Americano.

Celtic National Leagues

Scotland (SGA); Wales (NWWCAFL); Brittany (Conf’Ouest); Galicia (AGFA)

Ireland (AFI):

As this is an Irish Sports Archive there is much more on American Football Ireland covered, so Ireland has its own page at: American Football Ireland

National (NPL)

National Passball League

National Passball League (Britannia) 1988-1993

National Passball League (Seasons): 1988 1991 1992 1993

Scotland (SGA)

Scottish American Football

Scottish 7v7 Football Friendlies (Seasons and Match Reports):

Scottish Gridiron Association Bowl Finals 1995-1998

Caledonian Thistle American Football League 1987-1988

Scottish American Football Capital Bowl 1986-1990

Capital Bowl (Seasons): 1990 1989

Scottish Youth Kitted

Scottish Youth Kitted Friendlies (Seasons):

Scottish Flag Football

Scottish Flag Football Association Senior 2003-2007

Scottish Flag Football Friendlies 1993-94

Scottish Youth Flag Football

Scottish Claymores Flag Football Association Youth League (Seasons): 1996

Wales (NWWCAFL)

North West & Welsh Counties American Football

North West & Welsh Counties American Football League 1987

Wales Friendlies (Seasons): 1993

Brittany (Conf’Ouest)

Brittany American Football

Conference Ouest (Brittany American Football) 1997-2005

Galicia (AGFA)

Galician American Football

Liga Gallega de Futbol Americano (Galicia) 2012-2016

Scandinavian National Leagues

Finland (SAJL); Denmark (DAFF); Norway (NAFF); Iceland.

Sweden (SAFF)

Sweriges Amerikanska FotbollForbund (SAFF)

SAFF Superserien (Standings):

Sveriges Amerikanska FotbollForbund Superserien (SAFF Sweden Superseries) 1997-1999

Finland (SAJL):

Finnish American Football Federation Bowls(Overviews):

Finnish American Football Federation Maple Bowls 1980-Present

Finnish American Football Association Men’s League (Seasons): 2020 2018 1980

Denmark (DAFF):

Dansk Amerikansk Fodbold Forbund (Denmark) Mermaid Bowl 1988-Present

Norway (NAFF)

Norwegian American Football Federation 1st Division 1991-2000

Iceland

Icelandic American Football (Reykjavik Einherjar) 2016-2019

Reykjavik Einherjar (Seasons): 2018-19 2017-18 2016-17

Picture Credit: [1] SAJL (2018) SAJL Logo [Internet] Available from: http://www.sajl.fi/@Bin/2800183/SAJL_rgb_glow%20%20laatikko.jpeg [Accessed 19 August 2018]

German Football Leagues

Germany (AFVD); Bavaria (AVFBY)

Germany (AFVD)

German Bowl

AFVD American Football Verband Deutschland German Bowl 1979-Present

American Football Verband Deutschland (AFVD)

AFVD American Football Verband Deutschand 1 Bundesliga 1979-1985

German Football League (Seasons): 1993

Bavaria (AFVBY)

Bayernliga (Overviews)

American Football Verband Bayern Bayernliga 1995-1999

Picture Credit: Manuel Findeis / Shutterstock.com (2018) MUNICH, BAVARIA, GERMANY – MARCH 11, 2018: close up on running kids in American football clothes representing the Munich Rangers at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. [Accessed 4 May 2021]

Central European National Leagues

Austria (FA; AFBOe); Switzerland (SAFV); Benelux (Big Five); Netherlands (AFBN): Belgium (BAFL): Flanders (FAFL)

Austria (FA, AFBOe)

Football Austrian (AFBOe) Austrian Bowl 1984-Present

Switzerland (SAFV):

SAFV Swiss American Football Federation Nationalliga A 1986-1990

Benelux (Big Five)

Benelux Big Five Division (seasons):

1999

Belgium (BAFL):

Belgian American Football League | Elite Division 2017

Flanders (FAFL)

Flemish American Football League | Division II 2016

Netherlands (AFBN)

AFBN Eredivisie (Seasons): 2018

Queens Football League Queens Bowl (Finals):

Queens Football League (Netherlands) Queens Bowl 2017-Present

Picture Credit: [3] Football Austria (2020) Raiders Tirol Raiders blicken auf eine historische Saison zurück [Internet] Available from: https://football-austria.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Siegerbild_ECTC.jpg [Accessed 18 April 2020]

Southern European National Leagues

Italy (FIAF); France (FFFA); Spain (FEFA); Portugal (FPFA); Catalonia (CLAF)

Italy (FIFA)

FIAF Federazione Italiana American Football Golden League 1998-2000

Federazione Italiana American Football FIAF Winter League Snowbowl 1992-2002

Lega Italiana Football Americano 1980-1981

Federazione Italiana Football Americano 1977

France (FFFA)

France: (FFFA):

FFFA French American Football Federation Division 1 2000-2010

Spain (FEFA)

Federacion Espanola de Futbol Americano LNFA Serie A Finals 1995-Present

Federation Espana de Football Americano LNFA Series (Spain) A 2017-2018

Portugal (FPFA):

Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Americano (Seasons): 2020

Campeonato Nacional (Seasons): 2019

Catalonia (CLAF)

Catalan League of American Football (Seasons): 1995

Picture Credit: [1] FIAF | Wayback Machine (1998) scudo [Internet] Available from: http://web.archive.org/web/19980526012131im_/http://www.fiaf.net/scudo.gif [Accessed 3 August 2018]

CAAF Logo

Southeast & East European National Leagues

Poland (PLAF); Slovakia (SAAF)

Russia (FAFR)

FAFR Federation of American Football of Russia League of American Football 2016-2018

Ukraine (ULAF)

ULAF (Results): 1999

Poland (PLAF):

Polish League of American Football 2006-2010

Czech Republic (CAAF)

CAAF Ceska Asociace Americkaho Fotbalu (Czech Republic) 1994-1999

Slovakia (SAAF)

Slovak Football League Champions 2010-2017

Slovak Football League (Seasons): 2017

Picture Credit: [1] CAAF (2021) nejnovejsi [Internet] Available from: https://www.caaf.cz/_SitePublic/img/nejnovejsi.jpg [Accessed 11 April 2021]

Alpe Adria Football League Logo [References: 1]

[1] American Football International (2015) Alpe-Adria-logo [Internet] Available from: http://www.americanfootballinternational.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Alpe-Adria-logo.jpg [Accessed 12 April 2021]

Balkan National Leagues

Alpe Adria (AAFL) Slovenia (ZANS) Serbia (SAFS) Bulgaria (FAFB)

Alpe Adria (AAFL)

AAFL Alpe Adria Football League

Alpe Adria Football League 2013-2015

Slovenia (ZANS)

ZANS Zveza za Ameriski Nogomet Slovenije

ZANS Zveza va Ameriski Nogomet Slovenije (Slovenia American Football League) 1. Liga 2010-2013

Serbia (SAFS)

SAFSrbija

SAFSrbija (Serbian American Football League) 2004-2006

Bulgaria (FAFB)

FAFB Federation of American Football – Bulgaria Федерация по Американски Футбол – България