American Football Gains Popularity In Brazil, Now Has Three National Divisions
In Brazil, "American football has been enjoying a surge in popularity, from amateur beach games to the creation of a semi-professional national league," according to Powell & Sherman of the RIO TIMES. Since the late '90s, new "men and women’s teams have been appearing all over the country, and the passion for the game is growing." American football is "one of Brazil’s fastest growing sports with a huge number of armchair fans and players adopting the sport." On Rio’s beaches, players getting together "twice a week to play 'flag' football in Botafogo and Copacabana is now almost as common a sight as beach soccer." The sport’s governing body in Brazil is the Associação de Futebol Americanos do Brasil (AFAB), and was formed in '00 to "meet the growing demand for the game." The AFAB is responsible for "overseeing the development and growth of the sport across three national divisions and two age groups." The organization has grown from a "few hundred members to well over 5000 in little over a decade, and the numbers continue to grow, with 18 men’s teams now taking part in the annual Carioca Bowl." A key reason behind the "growth in popularity of football in Brazil is the increase in televised NFL games, with channels like ESPN Brazil regularly showing matches, complete with Portuguese commentary and analysis." Another factor is the "easy accessibility of the non-contact version of the sport, which has helped attract a huge female following in a traditionally male-dominated sport" (RIO TIMES, 11/5).