League well on way to becoming global sport, says Goodell

PHOENIX, Feb 8 (Reuters) – The National Football League is on track to become a global sport, commissioner Roger Goodell said on Wednesday, and will look to expand its European presence with more games in Germany.

The NFL, already a fixture on the British sporting calendar, played its first regular-season game in Germany last November when Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on the Seattle Seahawks at the Allianz Arena, home of Bundesliga star Bayern Munich lined up.

Such was the interest that the NFL said there was an online queue of more than 800,000 when the tickets went on sale and over 3 million could have been sold.

The game was the first of four scheduled for Germany through 2025, with more to come, Goodell hinted during his annual State of the League address before the Super Bowl on Sunday between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles.

“When we went to Germany, none of us would have expected the reaction to our first game,” said Goodell. “We are confident that we will remain there well beyond the agreement of a year ago.

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“It moves the ball for us. It shows the incredible support we have over them.

“Our teams loved it, our league loved it and the fans loved it, so you will see more games in Germany.

“We want to make NFL football a global sport.”

For many fans outside of the United States, their only connection to American Grid Iron is by watching the Super Bowl or by purchasing a favorite team jersey and ball cap.

But the NFL has systematically increased its global presence, playing five games outside of the United States last year — three in London, one in Germany and another in Mexico.

The league has already announced an international series for next season with three games in London and two in Germany, with the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots among the teams taking part travel overseas.

There will be no game in Mexico this season as Azteca Stadium is being renovated for the 2026 World Cup, but when it’s done, Goodell vowed Wednesday the NFL would be back.

There are also signs that the NFL is preparing to enter new markets.

Last year, the league introduced the International Home Marketing Area (IHMA) program, under which teams secure international marketing rights in countries outside the United States.

“We will continue down this path,” Goodell said. “We broke every record in our international games this year, whether it was attendance or attendance.”

“Our biggest challenge is how we bottle this (excitement), how we make NFL football a global sport, and we’re on the right track.”

Reporting by Steve Keating in Phoenix; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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