German Football League: Setback for Frankfurt Universe

DThat they are still playing in the first division is something of a small miracle. But on Saturday, the men from Frankfurt Universe actually played their first home game of the new season of the German Football League (GFL), the highest German league in American football. Last year, the team actually had no chance of avoiding relegation. After almost the entire team had switched to the European League of Football (ELF) club Frankfurt Galaxy, Universe had to settle for players from the second, third and even fourth division.

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But thanks to an indomitable will to survive, the team remained in the GFL, although in the end there was a little bit of luck when Universe was awarded the points from the home game against Kempten at the green table. In the new season, there should be significantly fewer high defeats than in the last. “We no longer want to be taken to the slaughterhouse,” said Universe CEO Daniel Zeidler.

It was already clear on Saturday that it will be a difficult task. Ravensburg Razorbacks defeated Frankfurt in a one-sided match 66: 7. Nevertheless: Frankfurters hope that this season as a whole will not be as hopeless as last year in the first-class race is there. “We have taken a small step forward,” Zeidler said. “And the next step should follow this season.” The team should do this in all modesty, but also with confidence.

No head coach

The team stands. “We have about 70 signed player passes.” The universe remains attractive to amateur football players, especially those who would hardly play in other GFL teams. However, the fact that the Hessians started the new season without a head coach testifies to the financial austerity that limits the club. Defense coordinator Sean Averhoff took over last season following the departure of Mexican head coach Mele Mosqueda.

Now three men share the post. Marc-Philipp Gräff, who also performs tasks as a youth coach, will set the direction in training and on the field together with attack coordinator Sascha Alexander Lanz and the new quarterback Theodore Michael Landers. Canada’s Landers have been playing football with great success in the UK in recent years, winning the national collegiate championship with the Bristol University Bullets team in March. At the same time, the 25-year-old is one of the few so-called “import” players that Universe can afford. “Two, at most three” will be in the squad, Zeidler says. The money is not enough for more.

About one-tenth of the budget that Universe once had in prime time is available to the Hessians this season. That’s about 150,000 euros. “We are clearly at the bottom of the league financially,” said Zeidler. That his club can still start is due to the stadium operator FSV Frankfurt’s willingness to compromise. In the arena on Bornheimer Hang, Universe will only use the main grandstand.

“Last year we had an average of 300 fans,” reports Zeidler. “We are hoping for 400 to 500 spectators this season.” The city of Frankfurt “also came to meet the club from all directions,” explains the Universe boss. “The city mediated in the stadium issue and helped us with the training ground.” The GFL team can now continue to train in the Höchst gaming association, the three youth teams train at TSGwarts in Rödelheim. The fact that the National Football League (NFL) will play one match each at the Frankfurt World Cup Arena in 2023 and 2025 has apparently also helped the Universe. “The Games will definitely benefit Frankfurt’s football,” said Zeidler.

However, he is confident that the Frankfurt Galaxy “will be the top spot” with his games in the ELF. The competition is “overwhelming”, including what happens off the field. There will be catering at Frankfurt’s home games, but not the thriving entertainment program known from football. So the bratwurst as an appetizer or appetizer during the break is guaranteed. For the main course, however, there is only one option on the Universe menu: football.

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