On Friday, the National Football League (NFL) made a significant announcement about its expansion into untapped markets, revealing plans to hold its inaugural regular-season game in Spain at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, home to Real Madrid soccer club, in 2025.
Having already established a strong presence in Europe with regular games in London, the NFL has been assertively pursuing a broader global reach. The latest development of hosting a game in Spain adds to the league’s international endeavors. This revelation follows a prior announcement that the NFL would venture into South America for the first time in September, with a game scheduled at Sao Paulo’s Corinthians Arena, the renowned home of Brazil’s Corinthians soccer team. With this, Madrid joins the ranks of European cities such as London, Munich, and Frankfurt in hosting regular-season NFL games.
Next season, the NFL plans to host five international games, featuring three in London, one in Munich, and the historic game in Sao Paulo. The expansion continues as the league, responding to club votes, approved an increase in international games from four to eight in the year 2025. This news coincides with the buildup to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, where the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are set to clash, with the game broadcasted in 190 countries.
Beyond exploring new venues, the NFL is also focusing on cultivating a more diverse talent pool through the International Player Pathway (IPP). This initiative aims to bring additional international players into the league. In the current year, the IPP welcomed 16 international hopefuls, including Welsh winger Louis Rees-Zammit, who made the notable decision to switch from rugby union to pursue his American football aspirations.
At the conclusion of the training camp, these IPP athletes will have the opportunity to secure a 17th practice squad roster spot on any of the 32 teams, specifically reserved for an international player. This strategic move underscores the NFL’s commitment to not only expanding its global footprint but also fostering a more inclusive and diverse league.