How Popular Is American Football In Russia? (Fun Facts!)

Last Updated on October 15, 2023 by Alex PT

American football has growing popularity in Russia, with a lot of people now showing interest in the sport within the country. On the 6th of September, in Zelenogrand just outside Moscow, the first-ever Russian Bowl was achieved by the St. Petersburg Griffins after they defeated the Moscow Patriots. In this blog post, we’ll be talking about the popularity of American football in Russia. 

It was in the late 1980s that American football surfaced in the Soviet Union where the first official games were played as exhibition games between American high school all-star teams from the city of Oklahoma and local teams in the country. This was mainly because college football bowl games were not allowed to be played in Moscow. Nonetheless, the Russian teams later play competitively among themselves. The Soviet Championship was later established in 1991 and then became the Russia Championship a year after the country has fallen.

Following the upheaval of the dissolution of the USSR, the Russian/American football league was suspended for a while. It’s not until 2002 that it was restored and it started growing popularity since then. 14 years after, the league was renamed LAF, The League of American Football. Although after three years, it retook its name as the Russian Championship. Moreover, the highest league of American football in the country remains the Eastern European Super League as of 2020. Truthfully, most of the fanatics of American football in Russia do not know that the sport initially originated from the Soviet Union following its introduction in the late 80s.

Now, the sport has remained one of the most popular in the country, with retired athletes in other sports like soccer, wrestling, basketball, martial arts, rugby, and boxing now focusing more on this sport in the country. The USSR Championship of American Football in 1991 had 6 competitors and the Moscow Bears was announced the winner. Football developed immensely as time went on, but the major event that sparked the interest of the sport into the hearts of many Russian was during a domestic championship in 2013 between the Moscow Black Storm teams and the Moscow Patriots. Before that time, the Patriots have maintained a streak of 12 consecutive victories in the Russian championship. However, there was a change in superiority in the league when Black Storm emerged as the ultimate winner. 

An American called Bobby Rome, a part-time NFL, and former NCAA player was awarded the best player of the 2013 Russian championship season. He played as a quarterback for the Moscow Patriots after moving to Russia with his family to teach and promote American football in the country because he wasn’t really successful in his quest to AY for an NFL team. Rome became the manager of the Wild Pandas team (a team located in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok) after ending his career as a player. American football in Russia has really developed from what it used to be in the 1990s. Now, the sport has 15 teams that are competing in four different divisions in a fully-developed Russian/American football championship. Though there are outstanding teams in the country, the winner of last season’s championship, Moscow Patriots are still the top contender for this season’s championship.

 Besides, St. Petersburg still remains the major center of Russian/American football with two capable teams, the Griffins and Northern Legion, in the recent championship season. The only thing we think should see more improvement is the salary structure of the players and coaches. Even when you consider the rise in popularity of American football in Russia, the salary structures of the player and coaches are considerably less than in other European countries with an American football championship. Enough credit should be given to these players for their dedication and commitment to the game even with less pay and support from the country. Most of these players will still need to run another job to raise money for the travel expenses, kit, and membership fees. The only major benefit is that they will enjoy a true sporting community which is something good especially for building a great relationship between players. 

American football in Russia is still making great waves even though it still appears as an unattainable imagination to think that it can reach the level of the NFL anytime soon. Unlike before when most of the Russian teams don’t have kickers or punters on their roster and in some official games, there won’t be any attempts at scoring extra points or any field goal attempts, the game has improved now. Presently, most Russian teams have assigned players for kicking games and the most popular kicker was Nikolai Golovach from the Moscow Patriots, who scored a 46-yard field goal.

The Table Below Contains The List Of The Winners Of Russian Championship And The Year Of The Events. 

YearWinnersRunner-up3rd Place
Moscow BruinsMoscow SwansKharkov Atlants
Aktau Caspian Sphinxes
1992Moscow BruinsKrasnoyarsk Siberian DevilsKrasnoyarsk Siberian Bruins
1993Moscow BruinsKrasnoyarsk Siberian DevilsMoscow Eagles
2002Moscow PatriotsMoscow Bruins
2003Moscow PatriotsMoscow BruinsMoscow Tanks — Astrakhan Gladiators
2004Moscow PatriotsMoscow BruinsMoscow Tanks — Astrakhan Gladiators
2005Moscow Patriots
2006Moscow PatriotsMoscow Black StormMoscow Tanks
2007Moscow PatriotsMoscow Tanks
2008Moscow PatriotsMoscow Tanks
2009Moscow Patriots
2010Moscow PatriotsMoscow Red Falcons
2011Moscow PatriotsMoscow United
2012Moscow PatriotsChelyabinsk Scouts
2013Moscow Black StormSaint Petersburg Griffins
2014Moscow PatriotsAstrakhan Gladiators
2015Saint Petersburg GriffinsMoscow Patriots
2016Moscow PatriotsMoscow Spartans
2017Moscow PatriotsSaint Petersburg Griffins
2018Moscow SpartansMoscow Patriots
2019Moscow PatriotsPerm Steel Tigers
2020Moscow SpartansPerm Steel TigersMoscow Dragons

Closing Thoughts – Wrapping It Up! 

Ever since the establishment of American football in the late 1980s in the Soviet Union where the first official games were played as exhibition games between American high school all-star teams from the city of Oklahoma and local teams in the country, American football in Russia has grown to become one of the most popular sports in the country. We’ve reached the final chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good resources in your quest to know how popular is American football in Russia. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks.


Leave a Comment