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NFL Reportedly Considering Regular-Season Games in China, Germany

The NFL could play a regular-season game in China as soon as 2018, Alex Marvez of Fox Sports reported on Monday. Marvez also reported that several teams have expressed interest in participating.

Timothy RappFeatured Columnist IVDecember 28, 2016

"More than we can handle, and that's a good thing," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday on the interest from multiple teams, per Marc Sessler of NFL.com.

On Wednesday, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reported that "there will be a 2018 game in China with the Los Angeles Rams as the home team."

Troy Renck of the Denver Post noted that the Denver Broncos are "open to [the] idea" of playing in China, and it would not compromise a home game.

"The size and influence of China in the global marketplace can't be ignored," Goodell said, per Sessler. "We have fans and potential fans there."

Albert Breer of NFL Network confirmed Marvez's report, saying the league is "reviewing options." Breer also noted that the league had scheduled a preseason game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks in 2007 to be played in Beijing, but the NFL called off the exhibition to focus on bringing games to London.

The NFL may also play a regular-season game in Germany in 2017, according to Breer.

Several German cities reportedly expressed interest in hosting an NFL game, according to Barry Wilner of the Associated Press in October. Germany had five teams that played in the now-defunct NFL Europethe Berlin Thunder, Cologne Centurions, Frankfurt Galaxy, Hamburg Sea Devils and Rhein Fireso the league has something of a foothold in the country.

The NFL has continued to emphasize overseas games as part of its future, with three games set to be played in London in 2016.

The Indianapolis Colts will face the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in Week 4, the New York Giants will play the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium in Week 7 and Washington will face the Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium in Week 8.

The league is also returning to Mexico in 2016, as the Oakland Raiders will play the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Nov. 21 for Monday Night Football. According to NFL.com, "NFL owners approved a resolution in 2015 to extend the ability to play international regular-season games through 2025 and enable the league to play games in countries other than the United Kingdom."

While the popularity of sports like basketball and baseball has grown in China, the country remains a fairly untapped market for the NFL. As Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk noted, "China is a massive market that represents an area where both the league and individual teams can grow interest and sell merchandise that would continue to grow revenue."

The NFL has made it a priority to build an international presence like the NBA, NHL and MLB already have. Playing in China and Germany would be a major move in that direction for the most popular sport in the United States.

 

You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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