NFL-League well on way to becoming global sport, says Goodell

Feb 8, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talks to media during a press conference at Media Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX (Reuters) - The National Football League is well on its way to becoming a global sport, said commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday, and will look to expand its European footprint with more games in Germany.

Already a regular fixture on the British sporting calendar the NFL played its first regular season game in Germany last November with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking on the Seattle Seahawks at the Allianz Arena, home of Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich.

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

The game was the first of four planned for Germany through 2025 and with more to come, hinted Goodell during his annual state of league address ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.

"When we went to Germany I don't think any of us would have anticipated the reaction we got there for our first game," said Goodell. "We're confident that we are going to continue to be there well beyond the agreement we had a year ago.

"It's moving the ball for us. It shows the incredible support we have over their.

"Our teams loved it, our league loved it and the fans loved it, so you're going to see more games in Germany.

"We want to make NFL football a global sport."

For many fans outside the United States, their only connection with American grid iron is watching the Super Bowl or buying a favourite team jersey and ball cap.

But the NFL has been methodically beefing up its global presence and last year played five games outside the United States - 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 making trips overseas.

There will be no game in Mexico this season with the Azteca Stadium undergoing renovation for the 2026 World Cup, but when completed, Goodell vowed on Wednesday the NFL would be back.

There are also indications that the NFL is preparing to explore new markets.

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

"We'll continue on this path," said Goodell. "We broke every record around our international games this year whether it was viewership or attendance."

"What our biggest challenge is how do we bottle that (excitement), how do we make NFL football a global sport and we are well on our way."

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Phoenix; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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