In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league is expecting to make a decision on a new host partner for 2024 in "30 to 45 days"; He added: "I think it may be the single most important growth moment in our history."
Saturday 4 November 2023 18:43, UK
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has confirmed to Sky Sports that the league will stage a regular season game in a new host country in 2024.
The league's international expansion is celebrating another milestone over the next fortnight as it prepares to play the first-ever regular season matchups in the city of Frankfurt when the Kansas City Chiefs meet the Miami Dolphins on Sunday before the New England Patriots take on the Indianapolis Colts the following weekend.
It comes a year after the league introduced Germany as a host partner alongside the UK and Mexico as Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Munich.
Spain and Brazil have recently emerged as possible candidates to enter the fold, with Commissioner Goodell telling Sky Sports NFL's Neil Reynolds that a decision is close to being made.
"We're looking and analysing where we go next year," Goodell told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview. "We will certainly go to a new market next year for sure. We're debating on that and I think we'll have a decision in the next 30-45 days. So we'll be ready to. I think that'll be exciting for us."
The Dolphins are currently affiliated with both Spain and Brazil as part of the NFL's Global Marketing Program, while the Chicago Bears also own rights to market in Spain.
With the league's growing presence overseas has come comparisons to Formula One's global presence as it delivers its sport from city to city across the world. Goodell agreed with the likening and insists further progress is still to come.
London, Germany, Mexico. Spain? Brazil? The interested parties are forming a queue, Ireland notably among those eyeing a game of their own such is their relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I actually went to my first F1 race in Montreal back in June and just to see and experience what we could learn from it (was great)," Goodell continued. "When we expanded our regular season from 16 to 17 games we talked at one time about whether the 17th game would be all international games.
"We didn't feel we were in that position, because we didn't feel we had the markets developed enough for that. And so I think this is something that will get a lot more attention but I do expect to expand in regular game series quite dramatically."
The Jacksonville Jaguars made history in October as they became the first team to play back-to-back games overseas by facing the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills on a two-week road trip in London, the reward being two victories amid what has since become a five-game winning streak.
Last year had seen the league achieve the clean sweep in the UK when the Green Bay Packers became the 32nd and final franchise to play across the pond, ultimately falling to the New York Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
While travel requirements and changing time zones remain topics of conversation, the feedback over international games continues to be positive. Positive feedback serves as a springboard for further growth.
"I think they (team owners) completely understand the potential of it," said Goodell. "Every one of our teams has played an International Series game, every one of them come back with the exact same reaction and there's clearly something powerful here. And there's an opportunity for us to become a global sport.
"I think the debate is, how fast and what we do to sort of accelerate that growth. But that's healthy debate, that that's what we expect to have. How we make decisions is making sure we hear all the different perspectives including the people on the ground.
"We have made it clear to our ownership that we think this is a unique time in our history and to advance our growth particularly. I think it may be the single most important growth moment in our history. Because we now get a chance to share our game."