German American Football clubs will not change schedule to accommodate IFAF European Championships

In an earlier story since removed, AFI reported that the German American Football clubs voted to prevent European import players from playing in the IFAF European Championships.

That was wrong.

The information was inaccurate and for that we apologize.

What did happen is that 15 of the 16 GFL clubs voted not to change the current schedule to accommodate the European Championships scheduled for Finland.

The effect, however, could very well be the same. It will be up to each club to decide whether to release European national team players to play for their countries.

The European Championship tournament is scheduled to start on July 29 and finish on August 4. The German Football League schedule partially conflicts with this. Ironically though, the GFL has an almost month long break from July 8 to August 4 with only one game is scheduled during that period. However, there is a full slate of games scheduled  for the weekend of August 4.

As a result, many of those teams will need their contracted, European import players and the likelihood of releasing them to their national teams for practice and games would be small. On many of the German teams, the import players are the only paid players. So they are an important investment.

At the heart of the issue is the absence of the defending European champions, Germany.

Team Germany, the defending European champions, will not be participating. According to IFAF, they did not apply for reinstatement following the end to the IFAF conflict and so are ineligible. American Football Federation of Germany (AFVD) president Robert Huber flatly denies that as he told the German sports website

So there will be no Team Germany in the European Championships and the German Football League will continue as usual with their many European import players possibly watching their national teams from afar.

Team Austria QB Alexander Thury

Same situation in hockey and basketball

This situation is not new.

It happens in other sports such as hockey and basketball. The professional teams in the NHL and NBA generally do not,  or are reluctant to, release their players to play in international tournaments held during the season. After all, the clubs have an investment in the players. Naturally, the Olympic Games are an exception.

The move could conceivably affect all the competing countries, some harder than others.

Team Sweden’s Jonatan Gihl Photo: Yamamoto Shinji

One of Sweden’s top receivers, Jonatan Gihl, plays for the Allgau Comets who play the Marburg Mercenaries on August 5. Finnish linebacker Roni Salonen who plays for the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, will be unable to represent his country as will one of Great Britain’s leading receivers is Tim Thomas who signed with the Frankfurt Universe.

Finland’s top WR, Sebastian Sagne PHOTO: SALLA LAHTI

Another top Finnish player, receiver, Sebastian Sagne also plays for the Universe and his absence will certainly be felt by Team Finland. Sweden’s leading defensive back Markus Persson, will be missing. He too plays for the Frankfurt Universe.

France will be without running back Andreas Betza who also plays for the Universe. Austrian quarterback Alex Thury now plays for the Marburg Mercenaries while Finnish defensive lineman Lauri Vainio plays for the Berlin Rebels.

How will this affect the outcome of the tournament or the quality of play? That is difficult to say as it can depend on the position of the missing player. Austria may have a harder time without the services of Thury at quarterback and Sagne is a difference-making receiver for Finland.

The bigger question is when, or if, Germany will rejoin the rest of Europe. The European Championships serve as a qualifying tournament for the IFAF World Championships which should be held in 2019.


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