How International American Football Can Gain More Traction With Americans

While the eyes of the nation have been glued to what we can only call a spectacular divisional round, thoughts turn to a potential Stafford Super Bowl shootout against Mahomes or Burrow, whilst there’s a lot of football being played elsewhere too. The American obsession with football can be sated almost year-round between pro, college and high school games. This may explain why overseas leagues like the CFL in Canada or the ELF, across 5 European countries haven’t gained huge traction here. However, we’ve never heard a football fan say they’re watching too many games. So there could be an opportunity for international leagues to certainly be accepted as part of the overall game.

Tell Players’ Stories

Everyone wants to know more about their favorite players and everyone loves a narrative. Our leagues thrive on it, from the Saints bringing joy back to Katrina-struck New Orleans through to Tampa Bay Brady vs Belichick. Many overseas players are former US college athletes, and the NFL proactively works with overseas teams in its International Player Pathway Program. Maybe not whole 30 For 30 pieces, but little shorts on social to get to know the talent out there. All fans would love to brag in the bar that they knew ‘that kid was gonna be good back when he was playing for Stuttgart’.

Get a Streaming Deal

European League of Football games generally kick off at 3pm CET on a Sunday – or 9am EST. It’s not hard to imagine that folks would tune in to see a competitive game prior to NFL Sunday starting. That could be through one of the many existing streaming platforms, some of which are dedicated to specialist coverage –’s coverage of high school sports springs to mind, or through a league’s own app, similar to the WWE or ATP Tour.

Make More of Merch

In other sports – notably soccer – team jerseys are frequently seen as fashion items and fans of the game are quite happy to wear sides from other leagues (not domestic rivals, it should be said) jerseys. There’s always excitement in soccer circles when some of the more elegant and outlandish Italian shirts drop – Genoa and AS Roma are always favorites. In football, the CFL boasts the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Finnish Vaahteraliiga gives us the Helsinki Roosters and Porvoo Butchers. The Eastern European Super League’s franchises include the Bryansk Robbers and Vladivostok Wild Pandas. Football hipsters are one thing, but would you wear a Wild Pandas jersey because…Wild Pandas? Absolutely you would.

Fan Tokens

Fan tokens would be a great way of feeling invested in a specific overseas team – indeed, it’s almost what they’re designed for. Holders receive perks from the club whose tokens they have; things like access to exclusive merchandise and voting rights on club decisions. Already, a number of sports teams around the world have embraced fan tokens –– but the NFL has been slow to join in – a little surprising given their new found focus on international audiences with games being played in London and Mexico City. Only the Patriots thus far have launched a fan token scheme. The European soccer behemoths like Juventus, Barcelona and PSG – whose fanbases are global, rather than just city or even countrywide – were very quick to get in on the action as they provide those fans who won’t be able to attend matches easily a vehicle to be invested and connected to their club. Again, if you had the chance to vote whether a Wild Pandas jersey was a simple black and white affair, or actually featured a graphic of an angry panda – think back to the classic Toronto Raptors jersey with the dinosaur – that would be a vote to be in on.

Appeal to American Heritage

Geographically targeted ads could appeal to recent immigrants who’ve come to the US and learned to love the game, or descendants who’re proud of their lineage. The Wroclaw Panthers could drum up interest in the Polish stronghold of Chicago, likewise the Berlin Thunder or Frankfurt Galaxy in German-American communities in cities like Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. The fusion between the old country and the iconic American sport could prove quite attractive. In Chicago, it’d be appreciated simply to have a team that it’s OK to root for other than the Bears.

The NFL, as noted, has been proactive in promoting – to the point of physically taking – its product to other countries. With America’s love for football showing no signs of dimming, it could be an ideal time for foreign leagues to bring it back to where it started.

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