GFL: Cologne Crocodiles leave the GFL after turmoil-ridden off-season

On Saturday, April 15, the 2022 German Football League semi-finalist Cologne Crocodiles announced they will not be participating in the German Football League this year. Only five weeks before the planned kickoff, club management released this statement regarding the future of the organization.

“In the last few weeks, we gave everything we had, however with only a few weeks to go before the season we will not have a team ready to play for 2023.”

Recently the club hired former Stuttgart Scorpions and Surge coach Martin Hanselman to take over the team. However, according to the Kolner Stadt Anzeiger Cologne has had no luck in retaining its key players from 2022 and bringing in new talent, resulting in low numbers at practice.

Attendance fell to a measly five players last week, with just over a month to go before kickoff. The off-season has meant several key players have left the club opting to join not only the ELF but also lower-league teams in the area. Hanselman commented on the disappointing news:

 “I called every single player on the list. It’s such a shame, we could have really achieved a lot with this squad,” 

Hanselman was hired after on-going disputes with 2022 head coach David Odenthal around the team’s budget for the 2023 season. Odenthal resigned as head coach in January with the support of several key Crocodiles players as the feud between players/coaches, and management grew increasingly hostile.

Eventually the two groups came together as Odenthal was announced as head coach later in January. However, the reunion didn’t last as Odenthal and the Crocodiles split for good in late March. Cologne’s board stated that “Irreconcilable differences” have arisen as the two parties discussed the team’s planned budget in 2023. According to the Kolner Stadt Anzeiger, coach Odenthal and the Club are currently engaged in a legal dispute.

The news could mean that the Crocodiles would return to the eighth league of football in Germany in 2024 as uncertainty surrounds the 2022 semi-finalist senior team at the moment.  This also leaves the GFL North with only seven teams as the schedule is unlikely to be reworked with the season just around the corner.

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and