For the first time since NFL Europe folded in 2007, there will be “professionalalized” football in Europe.
In June, the European League of Football – ELF – will bring a new brand of American Football to the European Continent, with eight top teams from Germany and Poland, in order to crown the first ELF Champion in September 2021.
With teams in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hildesheim/Hannover, Ingolstadt and the three-time Polish champions Wroclaw Panthers being the backbone of the league, the two shareholders are SEH Sports & Entertainment Holding and Patrick Esume, who will also serve as ELF commissioner. Negotiations for a potential eighth team in the league are currently taking place. Seven teams have signed the contracts for their participation in the ELF premiere season.
Zeljko Karajica of SEH Sports & Entertainment Holding is the former managing director of ProSiebenSat.1 and Sport1 and will be the CEO of the European League of Football:
“The ELF is managed by a professional franchise system and we are convinced that the time is right for a top European league. The interest in American Football is growing from year to year, especially in Germany. We offer fans a highly attractive product during the NFL-free period.”
In Patrick Esume, Karajica is joined by a man at the top of the ELF, who represents American football in Europe like no other. The multiple German Bowl, Eurobowl and World Bowl winner, head coach of reigning European Champion French national team, TV expert, presenter and author, will take over the position of commissioner of the league, which will be based in Hamburg.
“Coach” Esume is highly convinced that ELF will attract mass interest among the European fans.
“American football is experiencing a boom in Germany. Our goal is to establish a top league in Europe, to provide a stage for the greatest talents with professional structures, and to stage this fantastic sport in the way it deserves to be played.”
After the first season with eight franchises, the European League of Football is to be further expanded in the forthcoming years. In the medium term, the European League of Football is planning with more than 20 teams from ten countries in a league so relevant to the sport that it can serve as a developmental tool for the NFL.
According to Esume, that is one of the reasons for playing by NFL rules as opposed to NCAA rules as played otherwise throughout Europe.
“Playing by NFL rules gives us the opportunity to put a more exciting product onto the gridiron, but also opens up the possibility to look for a close alliance to the NFL in regards to player and referee development.“
Every ELF Season will conclude in a spectacular Bowl Game, which will be played in the most beautiful stadiums in Europe.
“With the kick-off in June 2021, we will present the ELF as a brand in the media and offer the games to a wide audience on both analog and digital channels.”
Esume is also looking forward to the first season:
“With more than 65,000 members in 500 clubs, the football family in Germany has doubled since 2008. The ratings of the NFL broadcasts are growing from year to year, with almost two million people in front of their TV’s during the Super Bowl 2020. The desire for football is gigantic – and our proud franchises and the ELF will satisfy that need in the NFL-free time with top European sport.”
On behalf of all franchises Ingolstadt’s Goetz Ritter says:
“We are very much looking forward to the new league. It will be a huge project. Together with the other teams we will take football in Europe to the next level. When our teams are competing on the pitch, we will attract a large audience, which is what we and the fans have always wanted to achieve.”