The World Bowl was an annual American football Championship game, to decide the winning team in each season of the World League of American Football/NFL Europe. The World Bowl was played between 1991 and 2007 each year (except 1993 and 1994).
The game was conceived as the final of the NFL-related spring league, the World League. The first World Bowl was played in 1991 in London. 1995 saw a relaunch of the World League, with the North American teams removed, as it had been unsuccessful there. All subsequent World Bowls were played in Europe between European clubs. The league was renamed NFL Europe in 1998. Thus the only World Bowl to take place outside of Europe was World Bowl '92 in Montreal, Canada.
When the World League of American Football (WLAF) was founded in 1991, with teams in North America and Europe as well as expansion plans for Asia, the name World Bowl was appropriate. The name was kept after 1995 when the league limited itself exclusively to Europe.
From 1995 to 1997, the World Bowl venue was decided by the standings after 5 weeks of the 10-week season. All venues before, and since, were predetermined before the season. The 2002 World Bowl was hosted in Rhein Fire home town of Düsseldorf as a farewell to the old Rheinstadion. After the new LTU arena was completed, the 2005 World Bowl was hosted there again. It would return in 2006, as a first ever back to back WB site. As Fortuna Düsseldorf spent much of this time in lower tiers of the German soccer pyramid, Düsseldorf was the rare NFL Europe city in which American football held an arguably competitive position.
Nine World Bowls were played on Saturdays and 6 World Bowls were played on Sundays (1991, '96, '97, '98, '99, 2000).
World Bowl (WLAF, NFL Europe, and NFL Europa Championships)
- Note: Roman Numerals were not officially used by NFL Europa until World Bowl IX. Before 2001, the games were billed as World Bowl '99, World Bowl 2000, etc.
|Team||Won||Played||Winning years||Runner-up years|
|Frankfurt Galaxy||4||8||1995, 1999, 2003, 2006||1996, 1998, 2004, 2007|
|Berlin Thunder||3||4||2001, 2002, 2004||2005|
|Rhein Fire||2||5||1998, 2000||1997, 2002, 2003|
|Barcelona Dragons||1||4||1997||1991, 1999, 2001|
|Amsterdam Admirals||1||3||2005||1995, 2006|
|Hamburg Sea Devils||1||1||2007|
|San Antonio Riders||0||0|
|New York/New Jersey Knights||0||0|
|City||No. hosted||Years hosted|
|Düsseldorf||4||1999, 2002, 2005, 2006|
|Frankfurt||3||1998, 2000, 2007|
While the Olympic stadiums in Montreal, Amsterdam and Barcelona hosted World Bowls, the league never selected Berlin as a host town, where Thunder played in the Olympiastadion from 2003 to 2007.
Other uses of "World Bowl"
The former World Football League, a short-lived 1970s competitor to the NFL, was the first to name its championship game the World Bowl. In World Bowl I, the only WFL World Bowl contested, the Birmingham Americans defeated the Florida Blazers 22-21 on December 5, 1974 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The game had been scheduled to be played at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, but after the Jacksonville Sharks folded mid season the league decided the team with the better record who host the game.
The proposed World Indoor Football League that was to begin play in 1988 also intended on calling its championship the World Bowl. It would have been played on August 29, 1988. The WIFL, however, disbanded eleven days before its season was to begin.