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Tirol and Vienna to host EFL semifinals
Defending Eurobowl champion Tirol Raiders, one of three Austrian contenders remaining in the quest for the European club champions trophy, will face the challenge by German champions Berlin Adler on its own soil. So the Tivoli stadium at Innsbruck, a place were exciting American Football action truly is at home, will be the venue for another European extravaganza on June 6. Berlin is eager to prevent an all-Austrian final like in 2008, when the Raiders won the first of their two consecutive Eurobowl trophies against four-time Eurobowl champion Vienna Vikings. The Vikings this year returned to the semifinals and will host fellow Austrians Graz Giants on June 6.
Graz already accounts for the elimination of one of the four Austrian contestants in the competition originally. The Giants passed by the Danube Dragons in the closest game of the four quarterfinals, when only a a last-second field secured their 34-31 win. With this „golden kick“ the 2007 EFAF Cup winners from Graz made it to the EFL semifinals for a third year in a row, and after two losses by only 7 and 2 points in 2008 and 2009 this year they hope to go further. In their AFL national league game at Vienna the Giants already came close - giving up the game by 24-27 after they took a lead into the final quarter.
Graz and Tirol are the two returners to the semifinals from last year, the EFL format guarantees semifinalists a spot in the quarterfinals for the upcoming year. The Raiders accomplished their task in the quarterfinals with ease, as the Tivoli proved to be a stronghold too hard to conquer for the Valencia Firebats, who had surprised in the preliminaries, but fell short at Innsbruck 13-55. The next team to try should be of different caliber: German champions Berlin Adler rushed into the semifinals with similar ease, beating Finnish champions Butchers at Porvoo by 47-16. And the Vienna Vikings made a statement, too, when they came home from Paris with a 44-7 win over La Courneuve Flash.
Home field advantage in the semifinals and finals of both EFL and EFAF Cup is awarded in a bidding process amongst the competing teams. The process was standardized by EFAF in 2009 and enables clubs to formally apply, if they wish to host one of these games. The EFAF Board of Directors after evaluation of all applications decides based on financial, strategic and quality aspects. The goal is to showcase the top European games to a broad public, thus past attendance figures or possible TV coverage are amongst the most important in the mix of criteria that leads to the decision. Still clubs are allowed to back their application by direct financial offerings to their respective opponent, however since 2009 these can only be used in a way deemed to enhance the quality of play in the game. So a hosting club may choose to cover the cost for an extended hotel-stay of the visiting team, accommodate a bigger delegation or offer a prize money for the game. The percentages of such prize money to be awarded to the winner and the loser are preset by EFAF competition guidelines to ensure transparency in any financial transaction between the two clubs involved.