|Date of birth||3 February 1970|
|Place of birth||Hohenmölsen, East Germany|
|Height||1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|1994||→ Manchester City (loan)||6||(1)|
|1998–2000||FC St. Pauli||31||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Born in Hohenmölsen, Saxony-Anhalt, Karl started his professional career in East Germany, representing Hallescher FC and modest BSG Stahl Hettstedt. In January 1990, he moved to the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, making his competition debut on 30 March, playing eight minutes in a 2–0 home win against SV Waldhof Mannheim.
Almost always a backup at Borussia during his four half-year spell (his best output consisted in 28 games in the 1991–92 season), Karl left the club in the 1994 summer, prior to the club's back-to-back league conquests; following a run-in with coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, prior to this definitive release, he also played five months with Manchester City, on loan.
Karl played one year in Switzerland with FC Sion, before returning to his country and represent Hertha BSC and FC St. Pauli in the second division. In his second season at the former, he played 30 matches en route to promotion, but never played again in the top division of his country. In the following three years, he moved abroad again, playing for Vålerenga Fotball (one year) and PFC Lokomotiv Sofia (two). He became the first German to appear in the A PFG.
In 2003, 33-year-old Karl returned to Germany, playing with former East German sides. Two years later, whilst at Chemnitzer FC – he also represented VfB Fortuna Chemnitz until his final retirement in 2008 – he became the first player to be arrested in connection with Germany's match-fixing scandal, being suspected of helping manipulate the results of a May 2004 match between Chemnitz and SC Paderborn 07. He was given a nine-month suspended prison sentence for his role in the affair, and banned for eight months by the German Football Association.
- "Nichts geht mehr, Steffen Karl!" [End of the line, Steffen Karl!] (in German). CFC. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- Lelyov, Momchil (20 July 2006). "“А” група погледна към елита на Европа. За пръв път в първенството ще ритат холандец и испанец" (in Bulgarian). 7sport.net. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
- "Karl arrested in German scandal". BBC Sport. 11 March 2005. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- "Footballer banned for 8 months for match-fixing". People's Daily Online. 24 December 2005. Retrieved 26 February 2012.