IFAF European Championships getting set for an exciting 2023

The International Federation of American Football wound up the 2022 season with semifinals for the European Championships set and the rest of the groups finally back to normal after COVID disrupted the competition.

The four conferences in Group A (A1, A2, A3 and A4) produced the four semifinalists following a round robin tournament in each conference. Group A1 which was comprised of the defending champions, Team Italy, Great Britain and Russia, ended up being a single-game knock out as Russia was disqualified from participation. Italy outlasted the Great Britain Lions 28-23 to advance to the semifinal round to be played in 2023.

In Group A2, the 2021 European finalists, Team Sweden first defeated Serbia 21-14 at home in Sweden but it was not easy as the Serbs offered stiff resistance and mounted a late game comeback before finally succumbing. The Swedes then headed to Switzerland where they had an easier time of it, downing the Swiss 31-6 in a game played in Basel, Switzerland. Finally, Serbia played host to the Swiss and beat them 24-13. Sweden now advances to the semifinals hoping to claim gold after finishing with Silver in 2021.

The Group A3 tournament saw 2021 semifinalists, Team Finland put on a dominating show overwhelming both Denmark and the Czech Republic. They whipped the Danes 60-13 at home in Helsinki and then manhandled the Czechs 42-10 in Prague and with that advanced to the semifinals. Denmark bounced back beating the Czech Republic in 45-40 barnburner.

The final group, Group A4, looked to be the toughest with Team Austria facing France and the newly promoted Team Hungary. But the Austrians were ready as they handed Hungary a 41-0 shut out and then took care of the 2018 winners from France 35-7. In between, the French edged Hungary 9-2.

With this, the stage is set.

In 2023, Team Austria will play host to the reigning title holders, Italy while the 2021 runner ups, Sweden will travel to Finland to face their biggest rivals to earn the right to play in the European Championship Final. This group will determine spots 1-4 in the final rankings.

The next group will consist of the second-place finishers in each of the Group A tournaments and will decide spots 5-8. Thus, Denmark will host Team Serbia while Great Britain will play host to France.

The battle for spots 9-12 will involve the third-place finishers from each group which means the Czech Republic will be at home to face Team Switzerland while Hungary and Russia are supposed to face each other. However, IFAF has ruled that Force Majeure has been invoked for all games involving Russia under the current circumstances which would prevent the game from being played. If this does not change by the time the game is to be played, then Hungary would be awarded the win. For clarification, Hungary, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have declared that they will not play any games against Russia under the current circumstances.

Finally, Israel and Spain will play each other for the right to face Germany, who has returned to international competition for the first time since 2017, for a spot in Group A.

This could be the most exciting year for international competition in almost a decade.

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