The NFL has officially voted to allow the game to be played in Brazil in 2024. After months of rumors on this subject, one of the league's international competitions will be held next season in Sao Paulo, – NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports.
Brazil and Spain were candidates for expansion. While the move to South America represents a significant step for the NFL, the more noteworthy news from Wednesday's league vote concerns the 2025 season. The NFL is considering significantly increasing the number of overseas tournaments.
Rapoport adds that in 2025, the calendar may include as many as nine international matches. This includes eight concerts and the Jaguars agreeing to play a game in London every year. With the league's international schedule currently featuring a fifth tier, the world of football can expect significant development in the next two years. The 2025 plan is also the most significant change to the league's schedule since its launch in 2007.
Brazil's match will be played at the Corinthians Arena, home of NFL.com's Tom Pelissaro notes. The Corinthians Arena hosted World Cup matches in 2014 and was one of the venues used during the 2016 Rio Olympics. The distance in Sao Paulo two hours ahead of Eastern Time would not require a morning match to be played as is the case in European stadiums, although it is uncertain when the match against Brazil will take place as scheduled.
Sports Business Journal's Ben Fischer touched on international expansion for 2025, pointing out (via Peter King of NBC Sports) that the NFL is considering adjusting its mandate to have teams play at least one “home” game abroad every four years, rather than every eight years. According to King, Mexico will return to play in 2025 after the renovation of Azteca Stadium. The matches will be organized by London, Germany and Spain. France has also emerged as a potential host country as well Mark Maske from the Washington Post mentions. Australia as a possible host location. Sweden was there too listed as a potential host down the line.
With an expanded international slate looking set to become available in 2025, the NFL will be on track to have half of its teams play international games. Given the logistical issues involved and some teams losing at home, it will be interesting to see if the league continues to grow. Including 16 international games would be the fairest number in this case, potentially awarding foreign “home” games to a conference that has been scheduled to play only eight true home games this season. That may be a difficult question, however, given the obstacles the league faces in setting its annual schedule.
No organized opposition has been able to block these efforts with as many as nine international games played annually, King notes, adding that the eight non-Mexico games could be presented as a television package in the 9:30 a.m. ET window . This served as a window for a whole series of competitions held in Europe. The NFL, which didn't play any games abroad in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, appears to have opened the door to a four-window Sunday for at least half of the 2025 season.
The buzz around a team based in Europe continues, but there hasn't been any real movement in that direction for years. However, in 2025, NFL travel plans will still look a little different.