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Munich to host first NFL regular-season game in Germany; Frankfurt also secure rights to host games
Munich and Frankfurt awarded rights to host NFL regular-season games over the next four years. NFL head of Europe and UK Brett Gosper tells Sky Sports that UK games are unlikely to be impacted by the move into mainland Europe
Last Updated: 14/02/22 4:12am
Munich and Frankfurt will host two NFL regular-season games each over the next four years, commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Wednesday.
The Allianz Arena, home of Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, will stage the first regular-season game in Germany and one of five international series games set to take place in 2022.
Frankfurt were also awarded rights to host two of the four games scheduled to be played in Germany over the next four seasons, the first of which is due for 2023 in what will be an alternation with Munich.
Dusseldorf had been among the three finalist cities to be shortlisted and subsequently invited to the 'candidate phase' of a lengthy application process.
"We are very pleased to welcome Munich and Frankfurt to the NFL family and are excited to reward our fans in Germany for their passion by bringing them the spectacle of regular-season NFL football," said NFL commissioner Goodell.
"We look forward to staging our first game in Germany at FC Bayern Munich's fantastic stadium later this year and to exploring areas of broader collaboration with the Bundesliga."
The 2022 International Series schedule will include the Munich game, a game in Mexico and three in the UK, two of which will be held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and a Jacksonville Jaguars home matchup at Wembley Stadium.
It comes after nine German cities had expressed an interest in becoming a host after the league launched its search for a suitable partner in mainland Europe.
Dieter Reiter, Lord Mayor of Munich, said: "We are very pleased to welcome the NFL International Series to Munich. It is a great honor for the state capital Munich to be the first German city to stage a regular-season NFL game. Many Munich residents are big football fans and they will be thrilled that this spectacular sporting event is coming to their city."
"We have been collaborating with the NFL since 2014 when we opened our US office," added Oliver Kahn, CEO of FC Bayern Munich. "Our ambition was to reach and engage fans in each other's respective home countries. We are delighted to take this next step in our long-term partnership to host a regular-season NFL game at our home stadium."
Frankfurt sports councilor Mike Josef said: "American football was and still is at home in Frankfurt. That's why I'm very pleased about the NFL's decision to come to Frankfurt on a regular basis. The NFL is not just coming to Frankfurt for a game. With its sustainable engagement in our community, we are sure to achieve a great boost for sports in Frankfurt. We are looking forward to working with the NFL."
The NFL appointed Alexander Steinforth as its general manager in Germany at the beginning of December in preparation for its expansion into the country.
Steinforth was due to begin his duties with the NFL in early 2022 after seeing out his role as managing director of the Deutsche Sport Marketing commercial arm of the German Olympic sports federation. He previously spent three years as commercial director at Bundesliga club Fortuna Dusseldorf, having also worked as strategy manager at Manchester United for two years.
The Allianz Arena is the second-largest stadium in Germany with a capacity of 75,000 just behind Borussia Dortmund's 81,365-seater Westfalenstadion.
The Waldstadion in Frankfurt can meanwhile hold 51,500 fans for league football matches as the home of Eintracht Frankfurt, and 48,000 for American Football events having been the home stadium for NFL Europa's Frankfurt Galaxy as well as hosting three World Bowls and, since 2008, the German Bowl.
The Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs were the four teams awarded marketing rights in Germany as part of the International Home Marketing Area initiative.
Kansas City notably hold a long-term relationship with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich thanks to their partnership with the Hunt family-owned FC Dallas in the MLS.
Germany boasts one of the largest NFL TV audiences outside of the United States and previously staged five preseason games between 1990 and 1994, as well as being represented by the Hamburg Sea Devils, Fire, Berlin Thunder, Cologne Centurions and Galaxy in the former World League of American Football/NFL Europe/NFL Europa at various stages between 1991 and 2007,
The NFL underlined its commitment to the international market last year by ruling that all 32 franchises will play internationally at least once every eight years from 2022, while confirming that there will be at least four international games played every season starting this year.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosted the 30th game in London since 2007 in October when the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Miami Dolphins.
How will German games impact UK?
NFL Head of Europe and UK Brett Gosper has told Sky Sports the move into Germany is unlikely to directly impact the number of games played in London.
"In our view, they're definitely supplementary," said Gosper.
"The engagement to play two scheduled games here every year and the contract with have with Tottenham and so on, supplementary games for the teams who are part of the IHMA (International Home Marketing Area Initiative) can choose off their own back to couple with games in that market, that's what the Jags have chosen to do in the past, in the past they've offered as many as two games in that, we'll see how many they move towards over time here.
"But other teams in that HMA group in the UK such as the Jets, the Bears, Dolphins, Vikings and 49ers could well over the period choose also to play games here possibly.
"So I don't think Germany limits all the opportunity for games here in the UK. It's hard to envision us having the bandwidth to do more than four games a year here in the UK frankly, so that will probably be the limit in inventory terms but also resourcing the possibility of staging those games.
"And same for Germany, there are teams that have chosen Germany for their host market and in that case, there may be more than the one game in the period, maybe two, but looking forward to putting one game on first and then seeing other possibilities later."
New England Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson is among the most notable German-born players across the league, while Sebastian Vollmer won the Super Bowl on two occasions while protecting Tom Brady in Foxborough. The likes of Bjoern Werner, Kasim Edebali, Moritz Boehringer, Christopher Ezeala, David Bada, Mark Nzeocha, Aaron Donkor and Moubarak Djeri have all also appeared on NFL rosters after coming through the International Player Pathway Program, and Hero Kanu of Bavaria is one of the most coveted names in college recruiting this year following his move over to America.
Rookie Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St Brown and brother Equanimeous St. Brown, a receiver for the Green Bay Packers, can both also speak fluent German thanks to their mother Miriam Brown, who is from Leverkusen.
Germany offers 'whole new personality'
"I think it's an opportunity for fans to see more NFL in Europe that's reachable, that will provide another occasion to connect with the NFL but games that will probably have a different personality to games we have in London," Gosper added.
"Almost 10 per cent of the audience that comes into the stadium in London are German fans and it will probably work the other way as well. Just having that opportunity to travel somewhere else in Europe to see a game is fantastic.
"I think the International Series games are a little bit like the Autumn Series in rugby, that travelling across the border to see the Six Nations I think is a great thing for the NFL also to have here in Europe. I just think it's an exciting new occasion for fans to engage in a fun way with the sport and experience it. It will be a terrific experience with a whole new personality."
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