Arena Football League relaunch marred by issues

The Philadelphia Soul reportedly had a "chaotic and unsettling 48 hours" before their first game

AFL football
Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arena Football League's latest relaunch began on Saturday, but not without issues.

The league, which was originally founded in the 1980s, hit some snags when it kicked off its third iteration with games on Saturday.

In March, the NFL announced a partnership that would have 30 AFL regular season games broadcasted on NFL Network starting on Saturday, April 27, with the Albany Firebirds and Orlando Predators facing off after the network's 2024 NFL Draft coverage. The game wound up being broadcasted on VYRE Network.

The NFL did not respond to a request for comment from ProFootballTalk. Current NFL Network listings have its next AFL broadcast scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Thursday when the Firebirds face the Nashville Kats.

The AFL's Saturday schedule announcement did not include the Philadelphia Soul's matchup against the Louisiana Voodoo.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Christian Red reported on a "chaotic and unsettling 48 hours" for the Soul. Head coach Patrick Pimmel reportedly "stepped down the day before the team’s first game, and many of the Soul players had received release forms." Players from the American Arena League 2's Dallas Falcons then filled in on the Soul's roster and the team went on to lose 53-18 in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The drama extended to the Soul's hotel. Sports agent Tristen Burnett said that Soul players were kicked out of the team's Super 8 motel in the Philadelphia area and that the players' luggage was taken from them and locked in a motel room, Red reported, via Sports Business Journal.

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Red noted that the Soul's turmoil stems from an ownership situation after a venture group "backed out."

"Cracks in the Soul foundation started to appear last month, when word began to leak that the AFL would take ownership of the Soul," Red wrote.

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