Spain’s entry in the new European League of Football, ELF, the Gladiators, is a throwback to one of the original NFL Europe teams, the Barcelona Dragons.
The Dragons were one of the original teams making up the World League of American Football in 1991 which later became NFL Europe. The Dragons reached four World Bowls (1991, 1997, 1999, 2001), winning one, World Bowl V in 1997.
As one of eight teams to make up the ELF, the Gladiators will join six teams from Germany based in Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Ingolstadt, Lower Saxony and one team from Poland, the Wroclaw Panthers.
The ELF is set to kick off in 2021.
The Gladiators will actually be based in Costa Dorada, a strip of coastline located about 90 minutes drive south of Barcelona. In an area rich in Roman history, new general manager Bart Iaccarino has begun building what he is hoping will become a Spanish dynasty. Gladiators is a fitting name for the new franchise with the city of Tarragona, the capital of the region being home to an ancient Roman amphitheater and also with the historic Roman aqueduct Pont del Diable located nearby.
Iaccarino is no stranger to building franchises and turning teams into winners. The 37 year old Rome, Italy native guided the Reus Imperials, ironically from the same area in Spain, to the Spanish championship game in 2017 in only its second year in the top league. He was the architect behind the formation of the Lazio Ducks in Rome, an amalgamation of the Roma Grizzlies and Lazio Marines clubs in Italy. Under Iaccarino, the Lazio Ducks reached the Italian semifinals in 2018, their first year in existence. He is also a co-founder and coach of the Europe Warriors, an international traveling squad made up of all star players from around Europe.
The club has begun interviewing candidates for head coach and more announcements are expected in the near future as the new season draws closer.