NFL investigates sites in Spain, Brazil for regular-season games

September 24, 2023, 7:09 AM

As the NFL prepares to play three games over the next three Sundays in London, the league already is preparing to play future international games in Spain and Brazil, according to NFL executive vice president Peter O'Reilly.

Earlier this month, the NFL sent officials to investigate the possibility of playing the first NFL regular-season games in Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo as soon as next season.

"That's the diligence that we do constantly," O'Reilly told ESPN on the Adam Schefter podcast that will be published Tuesday. "What is the stadium like here? Could we play a game here? What does the support look like?

"So we're not there yet in terms of timing on that. But you're right, we are spending time in those markets, building relationships and looking at the stadia there."

The NFL is looking at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, the home of legendary soccer club Real Madrid, and Estadio Metropolitano, the home of Atletico Madrid, as some of the potential sites in Spain. Neither Spain nor Brazil have hosted regular-season NFL games.

"There's a lot of interest in the NFL," O'Reilly said. "I mean, we saw it. We did a Super Bowl viewing party last year down in Brazil, and it was packed and the energy is there.

"You've got some classic soccer clubs around the world who are really interested in hosting the NFL and building a relationship with the NFL. So the marriage of those two -- there's interests there for sure, and it's just determining the timing and the approach."

Continuing NFL global growth has become a strategic priority of the league and its 32 teams to drive fandom. The NFL will play five games this year in Europe -- three in London and two in Germany. The Jaguars will play two straight games in London -- a first in NFL history -- starting next Sunday against the Falcons at Wembley Stadium.

O'Reilly said the NFL also is studying the possibility of playing a regular-season game in Australia, although the logistics of a game there would be more challenging.

When handing out international marketing rights to teams in December 2021, the NFL assigned Spain to the Dolphins and Bears. The Dolphins also have rights in Brazil. The Bears are scheduled to host nine home games next season, giving them flexibility to have the ninth be somewhere other than Chicago.

"Brazil and Spain are two strong markets and two important markets," O'Reilly said. "And importantly, there are also markets that clubs are interested in. ... Marrying where clubs are now building their fan base is important. It needs to work for the clubs as well."

After next Sunday's Falcons-Jaguars game, the Jaguars and Bills will play Oct. 8 at London's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before the Ravens and Titans wrap up the three-game London swing on Oct. 15 at Tottenham Stadium. The Dolphins and Chiefs will play Nov. 5 in Frankfurt, and the Colts and Patriots play Nov. 12 in Frankfurt.