Austria are the champions of Europe

Team Austria convincingly won the IFAF European Championship crown with a comprehensive 28-0 victory over Finland.

In the Bronze Medal Game, reigning champions Italy beat Sweden 26-7.

Wide receiver Philipp Haun claimed the MVP honors as he caught three touchdowns to delight the 6,419 spectators at the NV Arena in St. Pölten, which included Austria’s Vice Chancellor and Sports Minister Werner Kogler and Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner.

“It’s a big relief,” said head coach Max Sommer, whose nation has twice finished as runners up in 2014 and 2018 and won bronze on two occasions. “We have started the program to finally become European champions. To find this conclusion, with this team that is so welded together, that’s very special. It makes me proud to be the head coach who has finally completed this project.”

Photo: AFBOE

Finland head coach Mikko Kolkkalainen, who was part of his nation’s four successive titles from 1993 to 2000,” said:

“Congratulations to the Austrian team, they deserve it. On defense, they produced big plays, the quarterback had good pocket plays. We didn’t quite manage to play our best game. The crowd also influenced us, they were so loud that our calls were difficult to understand. Hats off to Austria.”

A scoreless first half saw Austria unable to break down a stubborn defense and miss a short field goal. It was Haun who finally made the breakthrough after both teams’ defenses had been on top. A critical fourth down conversion run from quarterback Alexander Thury and a third down connection with a diving Florian Bierbaumer took the ball to within ten yards of the end zone. Haun forced his way in on second and goal for a slim 7-0 halftime lead.

Finland came out flying in the second half as Tom Suoste burst up the middle and raced to the Austrian 22-yard mark, but the drive stalled on a failed fourth down attempt. Austria capitalized as Thury connected twice with Yannick Mayr to breach the red zone. On second and goal after a pass interference call, Haun took in his second touchdown.

Defensive back Luis Horvath intercepted Finland’s next drive and after a scrambling Thury had connected with Haun through the air for long gain, Tobias Bonatti scored on a 17-yard rush to open an unassailable a 21-point lead after Arno Schwarz tagged on the PAT.

Haun sealed victory with a late touchdown and said afterwards:

“We knew that the mood and emotions would be a factor. We were always able to take the crowd with us, the fans had a huge influence. There would have been several MVP candidates today. It’s important to me that we all get a nice European Championship ring – everyone who worked together on this long, journey together.”

Michael Preston (@PRMikePreston) is currently working with IFAF in a PR capacity. He recently covered Super Bowl LVII as a member of the NFL PR team as he has done for 20+ years. He has held communications positions with NFL Europe, the North