The Vienna Vikings

By Lauren Richardson

VIENNA, Austria – On the outskirts of Vienna sits a stadium similar to soccer fields across Europe, with one important exception: American-style football goalposts on either end. FAC Platz in Vienna’s Floridsdorf district hosts the Vienna Vikings football club, one of eight clubs in the Austrian Football League.

Started in 1983, the Vikings have clubs in eight divisions for players in several age groups and skill levels. The multiple divisions allow the Vikings to grow from within. They begin training players at a young age and progress them through each level, so homegrown talent develops over time. The youngest of these divisions is the Nachwuchs U11, for those under the age of 11. The team even has an over-30 squad for players wanting to further their football careers after their prime, playing in the Division IV Super Seniors.

The highest division is the AFL Team One, and in it the Vienna Vikings are one of the most dominant clubs. Over the last 20 years the Vikings have won the championship Austrian Bowl 12 times. Not only do they compete within the AFL, but the Vikings are also regularly one of six teams from across Europe that play in the BIG6 European Football League. Each year the six top teams in Europe are selected to play in the Eurobowl, which the Vikings have won five times in the past 12 years.

Unlike the million-dollar contracts and big money sponsorships enjoyed by NFL players and teams, Vikings players do it purely for love of the game. Not only are they not paid, they have to purchase their own gear and shoulder some of the travel costs. European pro teams are usually made up of players ranging in age from their late teens to early 30s, which means that teams have players who are still in school playing side-by-side with men who have careers and work their normal jobs during the day.

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American-style football takes root in Austria’s capital

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