European League of Football expands to 12 teams for 2022 season

The European League of Football will enter the 2022 with 12 teams, up from the eight that participated in the historic first season in 2021.

With the addition of the Düsseldorf Rhein Fire, Vienna Vikings, SWARCO Raiders Tirol and the Istanbul Rams, the ELF has stretched its borders from Barcelona, Spain in the west to Istanbul, Turkey in the east. From the Berlin Thunder in the north to Austria’s Vienna Vikings in the south, the ELF now covers a land area that takes in much of central Europe.

The season kicks off in mid-June and winds up with the championship game in Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria on September 25.

With the addition of the four teams, the ELF will now be divided into three conferences, North, Central and South.

The North includes last year’s finalists, the Hamburg Sea Devils along with the Berlin Thunder, Leipzig Kings and Poland’s Wroclaw Panthers. The Central consists of the SWARCO Raiders, Vienna Vikings, Stuttgart Surge and the reigning champion Frankfurt Galaxy. The South comprises the Barcelona Dragons, Istanbul Rams, Düsseldorf Rhein Fire and the Cologne Centurions. 

The teams in each conference will play each other twice and then play six interconference games for a total of 12 games. The winners of the three conferences and the best runner-up in the group will qualify for the semifinals.

There were rumors that the league would expand to 16 teams but according to ELF Commissioner Patrick Esume, this was not a simple matter:

“When determining other locations, everything has to fit. You don’t snap your fingers and the organization, team and stadium are in place. I am convinced that we have a fascinating season ahead of us with a great line-up and that the quality will increase again. With the Rhein Fire, another NFL Europe brand is coming back, which to this day has a loyal following and has great potential. The Vikings and the Raiders are the best that Austria’s football has to offer. Istanbul is a world metropolis, the Rams a well developed organization. We are totally happy.”


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