Elite Football League of India

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Elite Football League of India
Elite Football League of India Logo.png
Sport American football
Founded 5 August 2011[1]
CEO Richard Whelan
Inaugural season 2012–13
No. of teams 8
Country India (7 teams)
Sri Lanka (1 team)
Most recent champion(s) Pune Marathas (1st title)
Most titles Pune Marathas (1 title)
TV partner(s) TEN Sports
TEN Action
Official website EFLI.com

The Elite Football League of India (EFLI) is a professional American football league based in India. Founded in 2011, the league is currently contested between eight franchises, seven of which are based in India and one in Sri Lanka. The inaugural season of the Elite Football League of India was the 2012–13 season which was won by the Pune Marathas after defeating the Delhi Defenders 6–0 in the Elite Bowl.[2]


The EFLI was founded in mid-2011 and publicly announced on 5 August 2011 in Mumbai.[3] The aim of the league is to introduce American football to the Indian market and its large consumer base.[4] The organisation's management team consists of both United States and Indian business and entertainment executives as well as several United States sports figures.[5] U.S. brand marketing consultant Sunday Zeller is noted as the founder.[6]

Prominent investors include Brandon Chillar an Indian American linebacker from the Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers who played eight games that 2010 season until an injury put him on the injured reserve list,[7] Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Ditka, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin, and former NFL quarterbacks Ron Jaworski and Kurt Warner.[8][9] Investors outside of the sports community include U.S. actor and entertainment producer Mark Wahlberg.[10]

The first regular season games began 22 September 2012.[11] EFLI games are broadcast on television in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, as well as in the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan on Ten Sports. This will represent a potential audience of over 500 million viewers.[12][13]

League structure[edit]

EFLI will comprise eight teams,[14] all of which have yet to be determine rosters, management and coaching staff. Players and coaches will be native Indians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans, but representatives from U.S. franchises will be supporting the teams.[15]

The league management's intent is to draw current rugby players from India over to the sport, in part by paying higher salaries than the rugby leagues.[16] In the initial announcement of the league on 5 August 2011, C.E.O. Richard Whelan noted that orientation programmes had attracted over 4,000 interested players in the previous month alone.[17] Similar orientation events are planned for Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan to attract a wide talent pool.[18]

Ownership of the teams will follow a franchise system, similar to the structure of the NFL, and initial ownership will be determined in an auction format. Unlike ownership rules in other Indian sports leagues, bidding will be open to both Indian and non-Indian investors alike. Although specifics about league finances have not been formally announced, officials note that 15% of revenues will be shared with the Ministry of Sports.[12]

While the teams represent cities across India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, all games for the inaugural season will be hosted in a custom-fit stadium in Pune. The Sports Authority of India is providing the stadium, Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, which has a capacity to hold roughly 20,000 spectators.[12] SAI may also allow for similar arrangements in other cities across the country.[citation needed] Games will be held in a round-robin scheduling format so that all teams play each other.[18] Expansion plans include 52 teams by 2022.[19]



In 2012 filmmaking duo Evan Rosenfeld and Jenna Moshell began following the EFLI and chronicling its inaugural season and the introduction of American football to South Asia in the documentary Birth of a Sport.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "American football gets set for India". NDTV Sport. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Roy Chowdhury, Souvik. "EFLI Stat Sheet: Pune Marathas". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Acayan, Ezra (2011-08-05). "Elite Football League of India launched - Mumbai". Demotix.com. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  4. ^ "American football is coming to India | ProFootballTalk". Profootballtalk.nbcsports.com. 2011-08-03. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  5. ^ "Gridiron league launched in India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2011-08-05. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "ESPN". 
  8. ^ George, John (2011-08-03). "Ron Jaworski is investor in new India football league - Philadelphia Business Journal". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  9. ^ "American Football in India?". Inquisitr.com. 2011-08-03. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  10. ^ Daniel, Kaplan (2012-01-25). "Kurt Warner, Mark Wahlberg investing in new Indian football league". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  11. ^ "Scores and Schedules". EFLI website. EFLI. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Ivie, Eric R. "NFL stars taking American football overseas: A fan's perspective - NFL - Yahoo! Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  13. ^ "‘They Need TV Product’: Why American Football Is Coming To India". Newsfeed.time.com. 2011-08-04. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  14. ^ [2][dead link]
  15. ^ Paliwal, Pradeep (2011-08-30). "Elite Football League of India launched - Mumbai". Demotix.com. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  16. ^ "Money scores, American football lures Indian rugby players". Indian Express. 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  17. ^ "Now, EFL wants to take India by storm - Times Of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2011-08-06. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  18. ^ a b 5 August 2011 Mumbai IANS (2011-08-05). "American football comes to India". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  19. ^ "Coming soon: American football in cricket-crazy India". Firstpost. 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  20. ^ "Birth of a Sport: American Football in India and Pakistan by Evan Rosenfeld — Kickstarter". Kck.st. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 

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