How American Football could Succeed Internationally in the Next Decade

Last August, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made a crucial revelation. The demand for regular games to be played internationally is so high that the league can’t keep up anymore. That comes after the commissioner gave up five games to London and Mexico City in the 2019 season.

By the look of things, he could allow more teams to play regular games internationally in the next several years. But will that help popularize American football? Some critics agree, but Goodell has his doubts.

Stick around to find out what the NFL and the football community think needs to be done to establish Gridiron internationally.

No to a Permanent Franchise in London

In light of the growing popularity of American football in Britain, some people believe having a franchise in London is the future of the league. The Jackson Jaguars is the easiest team to relocate as it searches for a broader market.

And sure enough, games in London often attract up to 84,000 viewers at Wembley stadium. The match between the Jaguars and the Ravens precisely attracted 84,500 people back in 2017. The Dolphins and the Cardinals boasted of a near similar attendance when they faced off at the same stadium a few weeks later.

Despite that, Goodell doubts moving a team to London could lead to success. He’s pointed out overhead costs as a reason that could bring down any franchise to could relocate to the UK permanently. Of course, Goodell has first-hand experience.

Back in the 90s, the NFL had attempted an international league called the world league, mainly in France, Spain, Germany, and Britain. The league attracted a considerable fan base for a while. But because most players came from the US, managing teams was more costly than the income generated.

Yes to Games Played in Multiple Countries

Hosting games in London has been vastly successful so far. In fact, it’s the single reason why the league increase games played in Britain’s capital from one game in 2007 to five in the 2019 season. Critics believe expanding the number of games played in other European countries could do wonders for the league.

A case in point is the massive success of the game played in Mexico City late last year. It was one game, but it had tens of thousands of people cheering for both the Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Some players complained about the field conditions, but everyone else seems to be enjoying the game.

Against that backdrop, increasing the number of games played in some of the big cities in Europe could expand the league’s market tremendously. Most European countries where soccer is the national sport also tend to watch the super bowl. Taking a few regular games to their cities could popularize Gridiron even more.

Explore China, Australia, and SA

Back in 2017, Robert Kraft took a group of the Patriots’ Hall of Famers to Israel to popularize football to the county. Meanwhile, Tom Brady made a trip to China and Japan, where he took photos with fans and did interviews with a slew of excited journalists.

In the past, critics and fans have also mentioned Australia, South Africa, and Brazil as potential markets for the NFL in the next decade. And sure enough, the league needs to be active in promoting the game in every country there’s some interest.

The International Federation of American Football estimates up to 71 countries have leagues and teams that compete in football. Most of them don’t receive support from the league, yet they continue to popularize the game to their players.

The NFL could pump some of its endless pit of money into these emerging markets. It could also help them find sponsors for the leagues to establish in the long haul.

The gambling industry, which is expanding rapidly in the US, could become an apt sponsor. In India, these casinos listed on Bengalslots would probably agree to a partnership with a football league. They are some of the best-rated gaming websites in India, after all.

UK-licensed casinos, particularly the top-rated companies as per Gambla, would undoubtedly agree to sponsor football teams. Presently, some of these casinos have partnerships with soccer leagues like the Premier League and Spain’s La Liga.

Build the League from Grounds Up

One of the reasons the World League failed was because it imported 100% of players from the US. That meant they had to house, feed, entertain, and pay for their travel costs for over six months each year.

Even though games in Europe could average 30,000 fans, the costs of maintaining American players in Europe were too much to handle. As a result, a better approach in the next decade would be to nurture talent right from a young age.

Most NFL players began playing the game from a young age. They grew up watching the game, learning rules, and practicing until they got into the major league. Goodell and his henchmen could initiate a similar campaign in the next decade.

It would be costly and risky. But considering people in Europe, Mexico and Asia have been warming up to football; it could pay off in the long term. After all, basketball did it, and now it’s one of the most popular sports in the world.

Broadcast Games Globally

English football didn’t become a global phenomenon by broadcasting its games in Britain alone. It has partnerships with North American, South American, African, Asian, and Australian broadcasting corporations.

These companies broadcast EPL matches each week, every season. And look where that got the premier league? In this age of streaming, the NFL has a multitude of platforms to broadcast its games internationally. All it needs is to use them.

Of course, NFL games are broadcast in several European countries, including the UK. But if the league is determined to become a global export, it should start attracting international broadcasters. China, for example, is an enormous market—one that could elevate the NFL’s gross revenues to an unprecedented level.

AFI
American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!
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