Soccer balls can be made of rubber or leather; to develop soccer skills a regular ball is not required. For a European nation to develop into a football playing or football loving nation, the country has to develop the sport at the grassroots. It seems to be too much effort for countries that already have an established interest in several different sports.
The sports that come close to football are rugby, which is played in Europe and many other parts of the world and Australian Rules football, otherwise known as footie. Both sports require far less infrastructure than football. Only a specific kind of ball is required. Both rugby and footie does not use specialized protective equipment. Most other countries also play basketball, the European nations play hockey and a few nations even play baseball. But none of these sports require the specialized infrastructure of football.
Quality of Players
In the creation of the WLAF, World Football League, and persisting with NFL Europe and NFL Europa, NFL was trying to kill the proverbial two birds with a single stone. They wanted to sell the notion of football in an attempt to make it into a world sport; the NFL was also using European football as a development league for its younger players, or players who needed a little more experience before they were ready for the NLF. The best players therefore would not be seen in action in Europe. If one were to continue "the football as a product analogy," NLF-Europa was a substandard or defective product.
A second rate product would not even sell in the United States, home of football. Consider the ill-fated and short-lived XFL -- the eXtreme Football League. XFL teams consisted of football players that could not quite make it to the NLF because they were not as good, or their best days as football players were behind them. Despite the promise of the league to have less restrictions on hitting and it would be more raw, the notion did not sell because they were not the best and therefore not as athletic, not could they hit as hard as the NLF players. There were other considerations too. One example is that the cheerleaders were required to wear skimpier (than normal) outfits, and were encouraged to date the players. In a move to appear more "extreme," Jesse Ventura, former marine, professional wrestler and one-time governor of Minnesota started out by deriding the coach of one of the teams during the broadcast of the opening game in the XFL. These considerations not withstanding, the XFL was cancelled simply because people were getting a substandard version of the NFL.
Arena football has a different model. The field is half the size of a regulation NFL field. A field can be constructed indoors. And the high scoring keeps the spectators interested, especially the diehard football fans (and XFL was not good enough to even keep those fans). Despite that, as a business model...
The European leagues play with only the best players in the world. These players come from Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. The best players are always on display, so much that even international players become household names (garnering much support) in the country and league in which they play. As has been mentioned previously in this essay, since the African and South American leagues are not wealthy, the world's best players from those parts play in Europe. These soccer leagues are therefore representative of the best in the world. Each club within the leagues is so ripe with talent, that on any given day, a club team might easily beat the soccer team of a nation. Certainly, American football with its second string talent cannot match this quality.
A Possible Model
An interesting experiment that is taking place, which might provide a model for American football, is the Indian Premier League. This is a cricket league that is based on the England's Premier Soccer League. IPL is popular because it is run in part by the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI), the richest cricketing body in the world. Each team consists of half of the world's best cricketers and the rest of the players are used to develop local talent. Since very few nations play cricket, in cricket playing nations, all international players are household names. This example is used in this essay not to compare cricket with American football. But the IPL situation for 2009 is relevant to the theme of this essay. In 2009, because the IPL schedule conflicted with India's general elections, it was initially suggested that the IPL 2009 be cancelled, which would have set all the efforts of the BCCI back. To combat this, the BCCI decided to host the month long tournament in South Africa. (HIndustan 2009) From a demographic standpoint, few nations are as separated as India and South Africa; but the experts have all agreed that the tournament is bound to be a success. The reasons are simple. The television rights will bring in revenues, because the populous Indian nation will be glued to its collective television set. South Africa is a cricketing nation and there is sufficient interest in that country and support for cricket. There is homogeneity within teams of the IPL, because all teams contain players that are household names everywhere. It is conceivable that the IPL could have been held in any of the top-level cricket playing nations: England, South Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and still be successful.
As a contrast, replace the word "cricket" with the phrase "American Football" and replace the words "South Africa" with any European nation. It is very easy to see why the IPL is likely to be successful, but past and future attempts at bringing American football to a nation in Europe is likely to fail.
http://www.essortment.com/all/americanfootbal_rwff.htm>Essortment.com. "American Football History." 2009. April 10, 2009.
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