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Why NFL Football Is Growing In Popularity in the UAE

posted on: Feb 17, 2023

Why NFL Football Is Growing In Popularity in the UAE

NFL (National Football League) football seems to belong entirely to one country: America. No, we don’t mean the kind of football teams like Manchester United play; that’s soccer. We’re talking about good old-fashioned, hard-hitting, classic American football. The NFL has fast players, huge padding, and fans so dedicated that they never, we mean never, miss a game. Football culture comes with all kinds of cool things. There are team jerseys to buy and wear to show your dedication, Super Bowl parties once a year when the game of games rolls around, and tailgate parties for most games from college all the way through to the big leagues. Americans love football; it’s almost like a birthright or a right of passage if you’re American! 

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American Football in the UAE

Because American football hasn’t been played anywhere other than the United States to any notable degree up until now, its popularity is limited in most countries…except in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is one of the most visited places on the planet. They have some of the most outstanding architecture in the world, their shopping is beyond legendary, and the natural beauty of the UAE is something that has to be seen to be believed. Now, in addition to all the wonders you can experience when you visit the Emirates, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Al Ain can also offer Arab American football. 

The league is currently only populated by four teams who will play their hearts out to reach the Desert Bowl, the UAE’s answer to the Super Bowl, which looks like it will be taking place in March of 2023. Though it certainly comes as a surprise that a country so far removed from the United States would wish to embrace such an all-American pastime, these Arab footballers want you to know that they’re here for the long haul. The Emirati American Football League stated to the press recently that they wish to be seen as a real football league because that’s what they are. They are open to anyone who wants to play and can make the cut, and they want this league to be sustainable in the long term. They also want football fans all over the world to know that the league will not be run like a business but will operate as an NPO. Any profit that the league brings in will be fed right back into the program and teams. 

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Kai Trompeter is the man moving many of the gears and the man who is currently coaching the UAE Falcons. Trompeter is one of the driving forces behind not only this team but the league as a whole. He is happy to report that the EAFL has been recognized by the football governing body, the Federation of American Football, which oversees a growing desire to play the game in 62 countries as of 2022. 

The Falcons are the national team of the UAE, but they’re not the only team you should be looking out for. The four teams that make up the league and who will be competing to make it to next year’s inaugural Desert bowl are;

  • The Al Ain Desert Foxes
  • The Abu Dhabi Wildcats
  • The Dubai Stallions
  • Dubai Barracudas.

The Stallions have already found themselves a well-traveled coach: Andre Sommersell, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts. 

Why Now?

Though UAE interest in American football has been building for a while now (Super Bowl watch parties have peppered the city for a few seasons), why is now the time to really start pushing their entrance into the world of a new sport? Trompeter believes that the time is currently ripe for the league to kick off because of the incredible amount of interest shown in a Falcons game played in March this year against a club from Turkey, as well as an inter-squad game played in April.

The initial registration book for the league shows that 130 adults have put their names down and are ready to give their all learning to play American football. The official league training camp will take place at Zayed City in Abu Dhabi and will feature training programs by several veteran professional footballers. This season will span six games and see each team playing the others twice.

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Wrap Up

We can’t wait to see what comes from the EAFL’s first season.

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