New Professional American Football League Kicks Off in Mexico

For the first time in 20 years, fans of American football in Mexico will be able to watch football with the launch Sunday of the LFA, Liga de Futbol Americano Professional.

Based initially in Mexico City, the four team league, the brainchild of Juan Carlos Vazquez and Edgar Zapata, will feature mostly Mexican players to start.

Mexico - LFA - Juan Carlos Vazquez

Juan Carlos Vazquez and Edgar Zapata

Vazquez, a Fox Sports TV commentator and Zapata, who coaches one of the teams, along with their seven partners, began this journey six years ago and have plans to expand the league to six teams in two years and to eight teams by 2020. Vazquez feels that Mexico could ultimately support a 10 team league but eight would be more like the situation of the Canadian Football League with its nine teams.

Mexico - LFA opening day

“We felt like this has been missing. Football is a very popular sport in Mexico and the college game attracts thousands of spectators. So this was a natural development.”

The league has attracted a number of major sponsors including Under Armour, Dicass (major retail chain), Imagenus (medical lab), Minno (technology distributor), Sports Clinic (sports medical hospital), and Zona Fitness, (gyms). However, they still welcome more as the league continues to gain popularity.

“With the growth of our league and the sport, we can foresee adding more sponsors.”

The LFA has the blessing of the Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera, as most of the games will be played in Mexico’s capital city.

That political support is understandable. According to statistics, the LFA will create 300 direct jobs and four thousand indirect, “with which not only boosts the economy of the City of Mexico but also broad sectors of the capital. “

Miguel Angel Mancera:

“It is important to note that the players on these four teams will have a salary and social security, along with medical insurance which is so important for a sport like football.”

The four teams – the Eagles, Condors, Mayas and Raptors – open their 2016 season Sunday.

Mexico - LFA - helmets-jerseys

Each team will have a 40 man roster plus a five man practice squad roster. The teams will play a six game regular season schedule followed by the championship game. All games in 2016 will be played at Jesús “Palillo” Martínez Stadium in Mexico City which holds 5,000 spectators. Organizers are confident it will be filled to capacity.

With a general manager, six man coaching staffs and full medical and training personnel, the league is clearly serious. According to Vazquez, they also have a national television contract.

Each team will play each other twice with the regular season ending on April 3. The championship final is scheduled for the following weekend, April 10 pitting the two top teams in the league.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.