PREVIEW: IFAF Europe Champions League Final Four Set to Kick Off

The IFAF Europe Champions League enters its final weekend with the semifinals being played in Belgrade, Serbia on Friday July 24 and the championship final on Sunday July 26.

The four teams that made it through the group stages were the London Blitz from Great Britain, SBB Vukovi Belgrade of Serbia, Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders and the Thonon Black Panthers from France. All but one are defending champions in their own countries and both Thonon and Vukovi are in the Final Four for the second year in a row.

Semifinal #1

London Blitz v SBB Vukovi Belgrade

CLFinalFour - Blitz - Vukovi

The London Blitz, who have long been one of the powerhouses in Great Britain and currently are 2nd in the British Premiership South standings, entered the tournament as unknowns and then proceeded to beat France’s #2 team at the time the Argonautes d’Aix-en-Provence 27-21. They followed that up with a 55-0 trouncing of the Osos Rivas from Spain. They have surprised observers as the teams from Great Britain play without true imports.

SBB Vukovi who were finalists in 2014 and came very close to beating the Helsinki Roosters in the final, are a well known quantity at this point. After surprising the Thonon Black Panthers from France in last year’s Final Four, defeating them 19-7, they have returned. Their road to the Final Four started against the Ljubjana Silverhawks from Slovenia who they edged 26-24. Then they traveled to Istanbul, Turkey and beat the Istanbul Bogazici Sultans 39-14.

Semifinal #2

Carlstad Crusaders v Thonon Black Panthers

CLFinalFour - Crusaders v Black Panthers

Defending Swedish champions, the Carlstad Crusaders defeated the defending Danish champions the Copenhagen Towers 34-9 in Copenhagen. In their second game, they beat the defending Champions League title holders and Finnish champions the Helsinki Roosters 42-7. The five-time Swedish champions have started to find a rhythm and with head coach Malik Jackson adding Team USA head coach Dan Hawkins as his new offensive coordinator they could surprise.

Meanwhile, the Thonon Black Panthers,  France’s defending 2014 champions and French finalists this year hosted Italy’s defending champions, the Milano Seamen and beat them 32-23 surprising the Seamen. They then traveled to Spain and whipped the L’Hospitalet Pioners 41-0. This is a veteran playoff team and recently played in the French championship game where they lost to the St. Ouen Cougars. Coach Larry Legault has been here before and knows how to prepare his troops.

Massive promotion in Serbia

The game is definitely being promoted heavily in Belgrade. No matter where you go in that city you find out about the game. There will be a livestream and we will provide the links on Friday July 24.

CLFinalFour - billboards 3pic


Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.