Do other countries play American football professionally?

That should be professionally, dumb auto correct. I was watching a cricket match set in Australia and one of the teams was Pakistani. It made me wonder.

As I understand it, not really. The closest would be Canada, where they play a version of football that looks very similar to American (“gridiron”) football, but with some differences in the rules that would be fairly negligible to someone who didn’t already understand the game – such as twelve players to a side instead of eleven, three downs instead of four, a bigger field, etc. Canada has its own professional league (the CFL), and the two games are close enough in play style that there have been a number of players who’ve played in both leagues.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the NFL operated a European-centered league, playing with American rules, which went by several different names (including the World League, and NFL Europe). Those teams were primarily made up of American players, many of whom were on the developmental squads for NFL teams. And, that experiment (which was an attempt to build a fan base for American football in Europe) ended over a decade ago.

The NFL does play a few regular-season games in London, and in Mexico City, and there’s a lot of talk about the league wanting to permanently move a team to London, but that’s still a far cry from there being a full, separate league of professional teams playing American football outside of the U.S.

My understanding is that, while there’s almost undoubtedly amateur teams in other countries playing American football, it’s almost undoubtedly at the club level (and probably largely played by American servicemen or expats).

It appears that this is a thing -

American football around the globe

American football international

Canadian football and American football both grew out of Rugby football from England, with considerable cross-pollination (the concept of a touchdown came from McGill in Montreal). And college football adds other variants.

They are just similar enough to be deceptive. You often hear commentators to the CFL comment about a new player from the US still getting used to the different rules. But, they’re professionals, and it generally doesn’t take long for them to pick it up. Almost all quarterbacks in Canada are US trained for instance.
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Well, I stand corrected. :slight_smile: It’s still a small thing, it sounds like, but it is a thing.

You might be surprised. How about India?

The Elite Football League of India (EFLI) is a professional American football league based in India. It was founded with eight franchises in 2011, and now has 23 franchises throughout South Asia, among whom 20 located in India, two in Sri Lanka and one in Pakistan.

I remember, on the day we first heard about it, an American colleague and I spent an afternoon making up team names and mailing them to each other. I won with the Bengal Cincinnatis.

I thank you.


It’s hard for me to tell for certain with a few minutes of digging, but it looks to me like the professional league might be either defunct or mothballed. Their web site is down, and it’s not clear if they’ve actually played any games since 2013 or so. While I can find a Facebook page for the league, it seems to be focused on flag football being played by college players (both men and women).

Cricket was spread around the British Empire in the late 19th/early 20th century. I suppose that if the United States had an Empire, they would be playing baseball and American football.

As of 22 June 2017, there are 104 members, with 12 Full Members and 93 Associate Members.

I’m confused - members of what?

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Since this is about the game of football, let’s move it to the Game Room (from GQ).

I also fixed the auto-correct mangling of the intended title.

I assume countries that play have to be accepted as members by some global cricket board. I’m more confused by the math (in addition to why cricket is being discussed in a thread about football). Is there a simultaneous full and associate member?

We have local teams playing but they are all club level amateurs, most players who want to get paid would probably play rugby union or league. AFL is still our biggest game down under…

Sisu, you almost got it right. So, so close.

The latest Australian participation stats are soccer being played by 1.7 million, so close to 10% of population, then among the egg-shaped balls its AFL (Australian Rules Football), Rugby League, Rugby Union, then maybe Gridiron, but probably a toss-up between that and Gaelic Football, and two kids with a tennis ball.

I think youre right that anyone with any talent would want to go into AFL or league depending on their particular skill. We’ve exported quite a few specialist kickers into America, since they dont seem to grasp the ‘foot’ part of their name all that well.

When you add in Tip-footy, futsal, the womens versions of the games, Gridiron in Australia would be lucky to make no. 10 on the list.

It’s not just that. Basketball (invented by a Canadian, but in the U.S.) is fairly popular around the globe. I’d say it’s easily the second sport of choice in continental Europe.

But basketball can be played pretty much in any school yard. American Football and Baseball require a lot of specialized field and equipment, so their worldwide deployment is a lot harder.

Members of the International Cricket Council.

This is a bit of a hijack, but the game furryman was watching could have been part of the recent series Australia played against Pakistan, but that was a ‘home’* series for Pakistan. The last time Pakistan toured Australia was in 2016/17.

  • It was played in the UAE, because cricket teams currently don’t tour Pakistan itself due to fear of terrorism.

Curious that neither of those articles mention Germany. There has been an American football league in Germany, the “German Football League,” formerly the “American-Football-Bundesliga,” since 1979. It actually has its roots back in 1977 with a single team called the Frankfurter Löwen; lacking any German competition, they played against US Army teams.

They play essentially NCAA rules, I’ve read, and there are currently 16 teams divided into “North” and “South” divisions. There is a whole system with a second tier, “GFL 2,” and third tier with 5 regional leagues.

Most (if not all) of the Australian rules players who’ve come over to the NFL have become punters (one of two kicking specialists on an NFL roster, the other being “placekicker,” or simply “kicker”). And, yes, despite the name of the game being football, those are the only two positions on an American football team who can legally kick the ball in play.

The Australian punters, starting with Darren Bennett in the 1990s, led a significant change in the punting game in America, as they introduced a different style of punt – the “drop punt” – which is, as I understand it, both easier to direct, and less likely to lead to unfavorable bounce. Before the Australians, if a NFL team had to punt while around midfield, the punter would try for a “coffin-corner” punt (i.e., try to punt the ball out of bounds close to the opponent’s end zone). Coffin-corner punts are now close to extinct in the NFL, replaced by a drop punt in the center of the field, which typically either winds up downed by the coverage team, or fair caught by the returner.

Read John Grisham’s “Playing For Pizza.” The story of an American player in the Italian league.

For participation I think basketball wins but I was talking about the size of the game in spectators etc.

90,000 + to see a home away game for instance makes the other leagues embarrassed.

I played Gaelic for a few years in NSW and my mate played Gridiron, at the time GF would have had more but I think Gridiron has passed it now.

It’s not only punters we are sending over now!

The other big change is an additional way to score.

International rules football is designed to bridge the gap between Aussie and Gaelic. Not nearly as well known as others.