Finland’s Maple League eases import restrictions, tightens EU status rule

In a major move, the Finnish Federation of American Football has announced that it is relaxing the rules governing the number of non-EU players in the Maple League.

For the past several years, teams have been allowed to have non-EU players on the gameday roster with two being allowed on the field at the same time. For the 2024 season, that number will change with five players to be permitted on the gameday roster although on defense only two will be allowed on the field at the same time as previously. However on offense, a third player wearing a jersey numbered between 50 and 79 who plays on the offensive line will be allowed. This also includes punters and kickers.

The reason behind the change in the rules is the increase in the number of European players being recruited to the Maple League which has caused a tightening of the market. As a result, it is possible to recruit top level American players from the almost limitless pool of players at the same cost of recruiting mid-level players from Europe.

More difficult to gain EU status

Another key change has been in the granting of EU status to a player who is not a citizen of an EU member state. By doing so, the player would then not be counted as a non-EU (or American/Canadian) player.

Previously, it has been possible for a player to gain this status if he has lived in Finland for a given length of time and earned the right to Finnish social security.

The rule is now being tightened. In future, EU status can only be granted if the player’s arrival and stay in Finland is for a reason other than for playing American football. In addition, it is required that the player has not played in Finland or Europe before and received money for playing. The reason for granting a player who comes to Finland EU status must be family-related (e.g. marriage, cohabitation, parents’ move to Finland) or refugee status. If the reason for the player’s arrival in Finland is for a job or to study, a one-year waiting period is required in the men’s Maple League before entering into a contract or starting to play, in order for the player to be granted status. Athletes who previously received EU status in Finland can keep the status they had in 2022 if they still meet the requirements of the previously valid rules. The EU statutes are valid until the end of the calendar year in question. In case of a change of citizenship, the new citizenship is valid on the day following the date of receipt. Other player status is determined for each competition year on January 1. according to the situation.



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