LOS ANGELES: The National Football League (NFL) is studying the possibility of expanding its international series to a new frontier by staging a regular season game in China, reports said on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
A report on the NFL’s official website said the league was looking at the possibility of taking the sport to the world’s most populous nation with a game held in 2018.
A possible game in Germany was also being considered.
China has been on the NFL’s radar before, with tentative plans to host a game in 2007 and 2009. Those proposals never came to fruition, however.
“It’s fascinating to think about,” New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch told ESPN on Monday at the NFL team owners meeting in Florida. “It’s very exciting, very exotic to think about. But if we do get to a point where the NFL plays a game in China, the logistics are going to be interesting.”
The prospect of a game in China comes as American football chiefs seek to broaden the international fan base of the sport.
Regular season matches have been held in London for several years, with games taking place at Wembley Stadium.
Three games in London will be held this season, including one at the home of English rugby, Twickenham.
Last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that Mexico City would host a regular season game between the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans at the iconic Azteca Stadium on November 21.
The NFL staged a game in Mexico City in 2005, when a crowd of 103,467 saw the Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers.
“We’re going back to Mexico, and London has been very successful, and we’re trying to introduce the NFL to more of the world, and of course that’s the largest population of any country, in China,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair was quoted as saying by ESPN.
“They’ve expressed interest, so I suspect, yeah, we’ll have a game over there.”