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The NFL International Series has been an annual fixture in the regular-season schedule since 2007, that was until the COVID-19 pandemic brought an end to the tradition. Thinking ahead to the future, the National Football League might have even bigger plans for the future.
Due to travel restrictions and player safety concerns, the NFL International Series was canceled before the 2020 season. Before that, the league had been rapidly expanding its outreach overseas. After playing just one international game each season from 2007-’12, four took place every year from 2016-’19.
Now, after having teams play in London and Mexico, the league is thinking bigger with plans to expand the NFL International Series.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the NFL is pushing a new list of targeted markets for games overseas by 2022. Two games would be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, another game would take place at Estadia Azteca in Mexico City and a fourth game would kick off in Munich or Berlin, Germany.
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Germany isn’t the only country the league might be targeting. Per the proposed resolution obtained by Breer, the NFL wants the ability to schedule games in Canada, the U.K, Europe and South America. Specifically, the league wants to see a matchup played in Brazil.
There are more changes likely coming, including the possibility of each team being required to host an international game within an eight-year period. While nothing is official, the NFL continues to look for ways it can grow its audience.
Will the NFL International Series return in 2021?
Barring a sudden setback with vaccines or an unexpected new wave from COVID-19 sweeping across the globe, the NFL expects to have international games in 2021.
Before Super Bowl LV, commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is headed in the right direction and hopes games can be played in Mexico and the U.K. next season.
“We are planning for international games in. That’s the approach we’re going to take. We obviously are going to stay in close contact with our partners in the U.K. and in Mexico and make sure that we are doing that safely. If at any point in time we don’t think we can execute on it safely, we will make that determination.Roger Goodell on NFL International Series returning in 2021
The 2021 NFL schedule won’t be released until May, with the addition of a Week 18. But there is every indication that team schedules are being worked on and we will see some of the NFL’s most popular clubs either playing in London or Mexico City next season.
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Originally, the Jacksonville Jaguars were scheduled to host two home games overseas in 2020. With new head coach Urban Meyer and likely No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, it’s a safe bet that the NFL will want to showcase them in London.