Dutch Federation allows Amsterdam Crusaders to leave league in Holland, will play only international games

The board members of the American Football Federation of the Netherlands, AFBN, have decided to allow the Amsterdam Crusaders to forego playing in the Dutch league and instead focus on international games in 2018.

The club itself announced its intentions a month ago, but the federation apparently had not given its official approval.

Following recent meetings, the AFBN has decided however that it might be in the best interests of the league and the Crusaders for the club to seek out international games only. Amsterdam has been the only team in the Dutch league to recruit imports both American and top notch European players, and for the past two years have gone undefeated in Holland, winning both the regular season and championship – the Tulip Bowl – with ease.

“Therefore, the AFBN has agreed to allow the Crusaders to play sanctioned international games in 2018 rather than taking part in the Eredivisie. This will provide the competition with a better competitive balance while allowing the Crusaders to provide their first team with a challenging schedule allowing them to further develop as a European top club. The outcome should produce an overall positive result for the sport and will be evaluated at the end of the 2018 season.”

This is a monumental decision. Never has a domestic team in Europe been allowed to step outside of its own federation to play only international games. In fact, this move has no precedent, at least in recent memory in Europe. Many of the elite teams in Europe look for non-domestic games and tournaments but virtually all also play in their own leagues. The Wroclaw Panthers have dominated the Polish league for the past two years and also played in the Champions League. They will remain playing in the PLFA in Poland though. For years, the Prague Black Panthers have been the top team in the Czech Republic and in fact chose, up until 2017, to play in two leagues, the Czech league and the Austrian Football League. Until this past year, 2017, the Swarco Raiders have played in the Austrian league, as well as playing Big6 tournament while also arranging extra games against non-Austrian opponents in the Battle4Tirol. The Raiders have also played against an NCAA Div. III team every year.

Amsterdam was the first team in many years in Holland to sign import players, Americans and other Europeans, and dominated the Dutch league. Their improvement was noticeable throughout Europe. In 2016, Amsterdam defeated two German Football Leagueteams – the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes and Hamburg Huskies – in European Football League play while going undefeated in the Dutch league and winning their 18th title. They lost one game that season, to the Frankfurt Universe in the European Football League final.

The 2017 season saw them lose to Europe’s #1 team, Germany’s Braunschweig New Yorker Lions 20-6 and then overwhelm the Barcelona Dracs in Big6 action. Again they went undefeated in Holland and won the championship game going away.

In 2018, the Crusaders would like to take part in the Big6 competition as well as a series of AFBN-sanctioned international games.

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