Sean Shelton is the quarterback for Austria’s Swarco Raiders. He is a veteran of American football in Europe and has kindly allowed AFI to republish his recent blog post on the different import rules in Europe and how this affects player development.
It seems to me that there are two distinctly different approaches national leagues use for relegating imports; the German way and the Austrian way. Every country has varying import rules but some are noticeably loose, such as Finland’s Maple League, and some are noticeably strict, such as Poland’s Topliga. I use Austria and Germany as examples because their national teams are the best in Europe and yet their national leagues are structured fundamentally different. The German Football League (GFL) is a semi-professional where players from all different nationalities can be paid to play football. On the other hand, the Austrian Football League (AFL) is fundamentally structured as an amateur league with a few exceptions per team. So why would the best countries for American Football have such drastically different structured leagues and whose system is better for generating the best domestic talent?