American Football Vs European Football: What Are The Biggest Differences In The Betting Markets?

American Football Vs European Football

American and European football surely are two of the world’s most popular sports and they do not always see eye to eye. If you mention football to a European they will expect to see a ball in the foot and not hold it in their hands.

Meanwhile, in the US, what Europeans call football is called soccer instead and it is not such a popular sport as American football, basketball or baseball.

Although soccer is growing in popularity in the USA, due to the arrival of legends like David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Chicharito Hernandez to their local league, the MLS, it is still seen as a minor sport in attendance and betting importance, compared to other popular North American sports.

Even though they share the same name in two different parts of the globe, these two sports are very different from one another in terms of rules, cultural significance and of course betting markets.

So, what are the key biggest differences in the betting markets that distinguish American and European football?

American Football Vs. European Football

As we already mentioned, football is the term that most people use for soccer outside of North America (US and Canada). That is why FIFA, the biggest entity in the game, which decides the next World Cup venues for example, is an acronym for Federation Internationale de Football Association.

The biggest difference compared to American football it’s pretty obvious: you can’t touch the ball with your hands unless you are the goalkeeper, who can defend with them inside his box.

Curiously, one similarity between both games though is that both American football and its rest of the world counterpart are played with 11 players per team. However, while in NFL there are unlimited substitutions, in soccer you can only make 5 substitutions, even if a player gets injured.

That is why sometimes you might happen to see an unusual situation where a field player has to pick up the gloves and go to the goal for a few minutes, in case there is an injury or suspension for their goalkeeper. As happened recently with Olivier Giroud from the Italian team AC Milan.

In soccer scoring goals is the only goal. Two teams of eleven players each participate in a constant flow of play on a rectangular field, controlling and passing the ball with their feet and heads. The game is set in two halves, each lasting 45 minutes. In the end, the team with the most goals wins.

American Football is also played on a rectangular field, but with with marked yards. Teams play with offense and defense taking alternate turns.

Either carrying the ball into the end zone of the opposition team for a touchdown or successfully kicking the ball through the uprights for a field goal are the two ways to score points.

Tactical planning is emphasized in American football, which features regular stops, timeouts, and unique team formations.

The Main Difference Between Betting Markets

Even though it is not a very popular sport for people to watch in Europe, NFL has gained more followers recently mostly due to the role played by sportsbooks. This means that European gaming sites are now offering a lot more possibilities to bet on the NFL, offering new markets for local players to engage in.

Even though NFL and NCAAF wagering may not be as common as it is in European football, it is still a considerable and ever-expanding opportunity in the sports betting market. In the US the NFL betting market is probably the most lucrative of the gambling niches and you can bet on players, individual awards for the best Broncos players of all time, for example, and even prop bets on things like which will be the first touchdown scorer or longest goal field kicked.

It is obviously difficult for operators without some connection to the US markets to justify investing in additional resources, such as developers, traders, or data feeds, in the absence of strong returns projections. However, the gamble has already paid off for those who took it, and they now have the chance to host the passionate NFL fan base in Germany and the UK.

When it comes to European football, nowadays, almost every European country has established a system for betting on this sport.

Differences In Betting Markets

Scoring System

American Football (NFL, NCAA): Scoring is based on touchdowns (6 points), field goals (3 points), and extra points (1 or 2 points). This leads to a wider range of possible scores, and the scoring is more intermittent.

Soccer (Football): Scoring is generally lower, with goals worth 1 point each. This can lead to closer and lower-scoring games.

Types Of Bets

American Football: Common bets include point spreads, moneylines, totals (over/under), and prop bets. Point spreads are particularly popular, where bettors can wager on a team to win by a certain number of points or to lose by fewer points than the spread.

Soccer: Popular bets include 1X2 (home win, draw, away win), over/under goals, and both teams to score. There are also various prop bets and live betting options.

Game Duration

American Football: The game is divided into four quarters with breaks between each quarter. This structure allows for various in-game bets and quarter-specific bets.

Soccer: The game is typically divided into two halves with a halftime break. Continuous play without frequent interruptions makes live betting a significant part of soccer betting.

Overtime Rules:

American Football: Overtime is common in certain leagues (e.g., NFL) and may impact the outcome of bets. Overtime rules can vary.

Soccer: Overtime is less common, especially in regular league play. Overtime is more prevalent in knockout stages of tournaments.

Draw Possibility

American Football: Games can end in a tie, but ties are less common due to overtime rules in many leagues.

Soccer: Draws are common and accepted outcomes in many leagues. Betting markets often include options for a draw.

Injuries & Player Substitutions

American Football: Injuries and player substitutions can have a significant impact on the game, and bookmakers adjust odds accordingly.

Soccer: Substitutions are more fluid, and the impact of a single player’s absence may be less pronounced. Injuries still affect betting odds.

Number Of Games In A Season

American Football: NFL teams play 16 regular-season games, and college teams play varying numbers. This limited number of games can make each game more significant for betting purposes.

Soccer: Soccer leagues often have a larger number of games in a season, and teams may compete in multiple competitions simultaneously. This can provide more betting opportunities but may also make individual games less critical.


These differences contribute to distinct betting strategies and market dynamics for American football and soccer.

Understanding the specific nuances of each sport is essential for successful sports betting.

Remember: always bet for fun, wage responsibly and enjoy the games.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments