Explaining the major changes in qualification playoff and tournament formats for Europe’s national championships
IFAF Europe, the European branch of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), has released the new qualification playoff match-ups and tournament formats for European Groups A & B for the period 2015 to 2018.
Prior to 2015, the now defunct EFAF organized and administered this continent-wide national competition. With IFAF Europe now at the helm, some changes have been made.
We will attempt to unravel these changes here.
Group A will remain more or less the same with six teams competing for the European Championship title in 2018. The Group B qualification playoffs and format is described in detail here while Group C has been eliminated completely.
Record number of nations competing
A record 14 national teams have applied for the eight spots available in Europe’s Group B, bringing the total number of nations competing for Group A and B supremacy up to 20.
This includes four new European nations – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Israel – who are all competing in the Federation level qualifying playoff circuit for the first time!
The European Championship qualification format has been restructured leading up to the 2018 European Championships.
Group A has not been changed and currently still includes the top four nations from the 2014 European Championships that took place last summer in Austria. These nations automatically qualify for the 2018 European Championships tournament and are as follows: Germany (#1A), Austria (#2A), France (#3A), and Finland (#4A).
The nations who placed lowest in the 2014 European Championships, Sweden (#5A) and Denmark (#6A), must re-qualify in a playoff against the top two Group B nations in the 2017 Group A Qualification round in the summer of 2017.
New format and playoff structure for Group B
Group B has been expanded and, with the elimination of Group C, Group B will now consist of eight nations in two separate divisions of four teams each. They will play a round robin tournament in 2017 to determine who earns the right to play Sweden and Denmark to qualify to Group A.
As the first and second runners-up of the 2013 Group A Qualification (Denmark qualified for Group A in that tournament) rounds, Italy (#1B) and Great Britain (#2B) automatically qualify for Group B.
The remaining six spots will be filled by the winners of a round of playoff games that must take place between August 15 and October 13 of this year.
The single-game playoff match-ups for those six open spots in Group B were released last week and they are:
The key factor taken into consideration when IFAF Europe planned these match-ups was geographic proximity, or travel costs.
The IFAF Europe Competition Committee decided that Israel and Norway were located too far from the seeded teams closest to them to consider bus travel as a viable option. Since airfare was still relatively expensive even for the closer geographic distances, the match-ups for Norway and Israel became the seeded teams furthest from all other unseeded teams – Russia and Spain. The other match-ups were determined based on the shortest geographic distance between a seeded country and a qualifier.
Two other factors came into play as well.
The Technical Committee decided that the games had to be played in cities with stadiums closest to the visiting team’s country, or to that country’s capitol cities. Also, where the visiting team is traveling by air, the home team must play their game in a city with a major international airport.
Entry forms for applying have been sent to all the federations and the deadline has been set at May 1, 2015. If any team decides not to enter the competition, the opposing team in that pair indicated here will automatically qualify for Group B.
If, by the deadline, neither of the teams in a pairing enters the competition, the Competition Committee will then determine new match ups from among the teams who have applied.