IFAF Women’s EC: Spain defeats Team Great Britain to capture gold

Spain are the 2023/24 IFAF Women’s European champions after a thrilling 21-16 victory over Great Britain on a night of high drama in Calatayud.

Considered underdogs as newcomers to the tournament, Spain claimed a third-straight victory having previously beaten Germany and reigning champions Finland. As the continent’s only unbeaten team at 3-0, head coach Manuel Ibañez’s charges cannot be overhauled at the top of the standings.

The chance to claim a shock title on home soil seemed to have vanished when a high snap led to a botched field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter. Great Britain held a slim 16-15 lead at that point and would have gone top of the standings at 2-1, blowing the race for the title wide open.

But Spain’s defense resisted the pounding running of Ruth Matta and once quarterback Victoria Valverde had the ball back in her hands she connected with Allison Rodriguez and Elvira Nunez for first downs. Valverde then threw the game winning strike to Maria Hernandez, who forced her way into the end zone for a touchdown and Spain’s defense again denied the visitors as time expired.

Great Britain had been in the driving seat right from the beginning as Siobhan Walker returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown having faked a reverse pass and Samantha Read tagged on the extra point.

The game was held up for a significant amount of time due to an injury to GB’s Delta Npuna before that early seven-point lead was extended to nine through a safety. Their lead might have been more but for a pass through the hands of Walker in the end zone and a missed field goal by Read.

Spain settled down in the second quarter and finally struck back when a lofted pass to the corner of the end zone found Olga Sotillo waiting to reel in a touchdown catch and cut the deficit to three points. A fake extra point saw Hernandez toss a short pass to Sotillo, who ran in to pull Spain to within a point.

After both defenses had been on top, Great Britain turned the ball over on their own one-yard mark and Sara Martinez burst in for a touchdown and Hajar Benhamid tagged on the extra point for a 15-9 Spain lead.

The Lionesses put the ball in the hands of Matta for a series of relentless pounding runs up the middle, but it was a cleverly called screen pass that attracted a blitz and gave Matta the opportunity to dash untouched to the end zone to earn a 16-15 halftime advantage.

Spain’s title aspirations seemed to have faltered when a potentially game-winning kick was denied, but then came the decisive touchdown pass from the impressive arm of Valverde to spark wild celebrations among the first-time champions.

IFAF Women’s European Championships 2023/24 Standings

Nation                  W/L        PD

Spain                        3-0         +19

Germany                  1-1          -1

Finland                    1-1          -2

Great Britain         1-2         +34

Sweden                  0-2         -50

IFAF Women’s European Championships 2023/24 Results & Schedule


Saturday, April 15

Great Britain 40 Sweden 0

Worcester, England
Sixways Stadium

Saturday, May 27

Finland 0 Spain 12

Vantaa, Finland
Myyrmäen Jalkapallostadion

Sunday, May 28

Germany 23 Great Britain 22
Düsseldorf, Germany
Solingen Walder Stadium

Saturday, August 26
Sweden 0 Finland 10
Solna, Sweden
Bergshamra IP

Saturday, August 26
Spain 8 Germany 6
Calatayud, Spain

San Iñigo Football Field


Saturday, April 13

Spain 21 Great Britain 16

Calatayud, Spain

San Iñigo Football Field

May 24-26

Finland vs Germany

Sweden vs Spain

August 16-18

Germany vs Sweden

Great Britain vs Finland

Michael Preston (@PRMikePreston) is currently working with IFAF in a PR capacity. He recently covered Super Bowl LVII as a member of the NFL PR team as he has done for 20+ years. He has held communications positions with NFL Europe, the North