The Canadian Football League (CFL) is a professional league located entirely in Canada that plays Canadian football. The league's top trophy, the Grey Cup, was donated by Governor-General Earl Grey in 1909 to the team winning the Senior Amateur Football Championship of Canada. Both the trophy and the championship game have become known as the Grey Cup. Since 1954 it has been awarded only to professional teams.
The first Canadian football teams played under the auspices of the Canadian Rugby Football Union (CRFU), founded in 1884. The CRFU was an umbrella organization that several leagues were part of. From the 1930s to the 1950s the two senior leagues of the CRFU (the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union and the Western Interprovincial Football Union) gradually evolved from amateur to professional leagues. They found they had less and less in common with the amateur leagues and consequently in 1956 they left the CRFU and formed a new umbrella organization, the Canadian Football Council. It was renamed the Canadian Football League in 1958. In 1993 the league admitted its first U.S. franchise, adding the Sacramento Gold Miners in an attempt to broaden Canadian football's popular appeal and boost league revenues. After three seasons of American teams, the CFL returned to an all-Canadian format in 1996 with eight teams. In 2002 the league expanded to nine teams with the Ottawa Renegades.
Although the Canadian Football League is the highest level of competition in Canadian football, the league competes with the American National Football League for the best players. In the days when sports teams were financed almost entirely by ticket sales the two leagues were on equal footing, but in recent decades the advent of television revenue has allowed the NFL to far outspend the CFL. The CFL sets a limit on the number of U.S.-born players on Canadian teams.
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