Intercontinental Football League 1970-1978


Barcelona AlmogovaresSpain
Istanbul ConquerorsTurkey
Munich LionsWest Germany
Rome GladiatorsItaly
Vienna LipizzanersAustria
West Berlin BearsWest Germany

Reference: [1]

Note on team names:

Almogovares were a Medieval Spanish equivalent of Vikings.

Lipizzaners are an Austrian breed of Horse.

The Lions is the symbolic animal of Munich

The Bear is the symbolic animal of Berlin.

Gladiators were synonymous with Rome and the Roman Empire.

NFL and IFL games 1972-1975

IFL 1972NFL Game
27.05.1972Paris, FranceNFL Bleu16NFL Rouge6
IFL 1972College Game
25;11.1972Rhein-Main, GermanyAir Force All-Stars42Rota Naval Base Admirals7
IFL 1973Turkey Bowl 1973
22.11.1973Rhein-Main, GermanyU Rhode Island Rams34USAFE All-Stars6
IFL 1976European Cup NAIA Colleges
01.06.1976West Berlin, GermanyTexas A&I Javelinas17Henderson State Reddies6
03.06.1976Vienna, AustriaTexas A&I Javelinas21Henderson State Reddies7
09.06.1976Mannheim, Germany Texas A&I Javelinas20Henderson State Reddies6
13.06.1976Nuremburg, GermanyTexas A&I Javelinas17Henderson State Reddies15
17.06.1976Paris, GermanyTexas A&I Javelinas21Henderson State Reddies13
IFL 1977European ChampionshipChicagoland League
02.06.1977Versailles, FranceNewton Nite Hawks26Chicago Lions6
06.1977Lille, FranceNewton Nite Hawks15Chicago Lions13
09.06.1977Kaiserslautern, GermanyNewton Nite Hawks26Chicago Lions16
14.06.1977Graz, AustriaNewton Nite Hawks29Chicago Lions6
06.1977Vienna, AustriaNewton Nite Hawks30Chicago Lions0
IFL 1978European ChampionshipNorthern States Football League
25.06.1978Brussels, BelgiumQuad Cities Black Hawks26Indianapolis Capitols14
28.06.1978Antwerp, BelgiumQuad Cities Black HawksWIndianapolis CapitolsL
01.07.1978Rotterdam, NetherlandsQuad Cities Black Hawks42Indianapolis Capitols0
04.07.1978Ludwigshafen, GermanyQuad Cities Black Hawks7Indianapolis Capitols5
1975 ?JapanSt. Louis Cardinals20San Diego Chargers10

Reference: [1]


The Intercontinental Football League was the National Football League’s first attempt at starting Professional Football outside North America.

It started after the film M*A*S*H became a worldwide hit in 1970, with its’ climactic ball game between the 4077th and 325th EVAC. There was enough interest for people to start clubs, and in 1973 Bob Kap, who had introduced professional Soccer to sceptical Texans, decided to try and sell Professional American Football to Europeans. He had enough interest in 1973 to have sold six franchises. One of the investors, Bruno Beneck, of Rome, had successfully introduced Baseball to Italy and was willing to do the same with American Football. He was also director of ‘Domenica Sportiva’, which was Italy’s most popular TV Sports Show.

The World Football League had started up in the USA, with the aim of bringing American Football to the world, and the NFL felt it had nothing to lose, and plenty to gain. It felt it could do business with the Intercontinental League, and had already played a game featuring 42 NFLers in Paris, France. NFL Bleu had beaten NFL Rouge 16-6 that day. Players were to be loaned out to the Intercontinental Football League, with each IFL team paired with one of the six NFL divisions. Sponsorship was found from Pan American Airlines, which would fly the players over.

Teams were also to be paired with NCAA Colleges for the development of players before the played in the NFL. Notre Dame, would be paired with Rome Gladiators, there being no Irish team in the IFL. There were to be two divisions, most likely North (Germany & Austria) and South (Rome, Barcelona & Istanbul), playing a 4-game schedule within their own division, followed by a two-game aggregate score final between the two division winners, to be played over May & June 1974.

However, the oil crisis, and subsequent inflation, and the spectre of domestic terrorism in Europe, from the Red Brigades and Baader-Meinhof Gang, meant the proposed league never got off the ground, following talks with persons in Washington. The final blow, however, was the financial problems of the main sponsor, Pan American Airlines, which pulled out of the project. A Final meeting in Honolulu on March 21, 1975 put an end to the league.

Beneck, however, wasn’t to be deterred, and continued promoting the game in Italy, with the first leagues there starting in 1974 among US Soldiers and then domestic Italian teams in 1976, including the Rome Gladiators. By then the IFL had already played its first game, the St. Louis Cardinals had beaten the San Diego Chargers 20-10.

Later IFL Tours were organised between College Teams for the European Championship in 1976, and Semi-Pro Teams from the Mid-West in 1977, and 1978. Texas A&I Javelinas of the NAIA won all 5 contests in 1976; Newton Nite Hawks, of the Chicagoland League, similarly won all five matches in 1977; and Quad Cities Black Hawks (Moline, East Moline & Rock Island, Illinois & Davenport, Iowa) of the Northern States Football League beat Indianapolis Capitols 4-0 in the 1978 series.

For American Football in Europe, it was only the beginning.

Reference: [1]


Website / Sources

[1] Mark L. Ford and Massimo Foglio, The Coffin Corner Volume 27,No. 6, Pro Football Researchers Association (2002) THE FIRST “NFL EUROPE”[Internet] Available from: [Accessed 20 October 2019]


[2] Massimo Foglio with Mark L. Ford (2017), Touchdown in Europe – How American Football Came to the Old Continent. Second Edition “The Trailblazers: Bleu et Rouge, College and Semi-Pro”. pg. 151-188. Published by the Author (2015, 2017)


Thanks to Louise Wills (Kenny) and John Wills.

About this document

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 5 November 2019

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2019

You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Resereved.


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