Five NFL teams to play in foreign shores


NFL international games 2022 Image: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Five National Football League (NFL) teams (US) will play 2022 international games in three countries – highlighted by the Green Bay Packers’ first international trip and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing the first-ever regular-season game in Germany – the league announced on February 28th.

The ‘NFL’ stated that the Arizona Cardinals will play in the NFL’s first game in Mexico since 2019, while the Packers will be joined by the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints in playing games in the United Kingdom. The Bucs will debut in Germany.

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league that consists of 32 teams, divided equally between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

NFL Executive Vice-President of Club Business and League Events Peter O’Reilly said in a statement, “We are very excited to be staging five games outside the United States in 2022, and thank the clubs for their continued commitment to growing the sport internationally. Our fans in Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom can look forward to seeing some of the most iconic names and biggest stars in the league and enjoying an incredible series of events.”

The ‘NFL’ further stated that after winning the world championship in the 2020 season, the Buccaneers will lead the league’s expansion into Germany, as they will play in the NFL’s first-ever regular-season game in Germany at the 75,024-capacity Allianz Arena in Munich.

The Cardinals will play in Mexico City’s 87,523-capacity Estadio Azteca, where they hosted the league’s first regular-season game outside the United States in 2005.

Said Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill, “In 2005 when the Cardinals hosted the first NFL regular season game played outside the United States, we experienced first-hand the extraordinary support and incredible passion of our fans in Mexico. We know that has increased exponentially in the years since and are thrilled to return to Mexico City and Estadio Azteca in 2022.”

The Packers will become the 32nd NFL team to play in London since 2007, when they are set to play at the 62,850-capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Averred Brett Gosper, NFL Head of Europe and UK, “We have a great line-up of teams coming to the UK and Germany this year. Having the Packers become the 32nd team to play in London is tremendously exciting for the fans and a great sign of the league’s commitment to international games. The New Orleans Saints have been longtime supporters of the UK, having volunteered to be the home team in the second year of London games in 2008, and the Jaguars are looking forward to a return to Wembley. We are very excited to have a recent Super Bowl champion in the Buccaneers playing in Munich and thank them for ensuring that it will be a memorable launch of our series of games in Germany.”

Playing in the UK for the third time with wins in each of their previous ventures, the Saints will also play at Tottenham in London.

The Jaguars, who had previously announced they would play in London’s Wembley Stadium in 2022, are slated to make their league-high ninth trip to play in England.

In 2021, as part of the NFL’s regular-season increase to 17 games, it was determined that, starting in 2022, up to four of the teams from the conference whose teams were eligible for a ninth regular-season home game would instead be designated to play a neutral-site international game each year.

Opposing teams, dates and kick-off times will be announced in conjunction with the full 2022 schedule announcement later this year.

Bucs in Germany

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are working to build a presence in Germany, and next Fall they will have an opportunity to bring their product directly to the German people.

Said Buccaneers Owner/Co-Chairman Joel Glazer, “We look forward to participating in the first regular season NFL game in Munich, Germany later this Fall as part of the International Series. This historic game will play a crucial role in the NFL’s efforts to grow its international footprint while allowing us to directly engage NFL fans in Germany.”

The ‘Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ stated that the Buccaneers’ opponent for the game at the Allianz Arena, as well as the date and kickoff time, will be announced in conjunction with the release of the league’s full 2022 schedule later in the Spring.

Last year, as part of the league’s expansion of the regular season to 17 games, it was determined that, beginning with the 2022 season, up to four of the teams from the conference whose teams were eligible for a ninth regular-season home game would instead be designated to play a neutral-site international game each year. Each of the league’s 32 teams will be designated for one international matchup every eight years. This year, in addition to the landmark game in Munich, the Buccaneers will also have eight regular-season games at the 65,890-capacity Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida (US). Krewe members will receive e-mail communication regarding how their season passes are impacted by the game in Germany.

The ‘Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ further stated that in December, the Buccaneers were one of four teams granted access to a new International Home Marketing Area (IHMA) in Germany, along with the Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. In all, 26 teams have been granted access to IHMAs in eight different countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The awarding of IHMAs and the International Series games are separate initiatives but the NFL indicated that it would make an effort to have teams play games in their new markets. The NFL will stage four games in Germany over the next four seasons, in Munich and in Frankfurt.

The IHMAs allow teams a five-year window in which they can take advantage of opportunities for marketing, fan engagement and commercialization in their designated countries that will allow them to build their local brands and help the NFL expand internationally. In this case, that includes an actual game played by one of the NFL’s most successful teams in recent seasons. The Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV at the end of the 2020 campaign and followed with a 13-4 record in 2021, tied for the league’s best regular-season mark, and a trip to the NFC Divisional Playoff round.

The Buccaneers have played three regular-season games abroad, all in London. Tampa Bay was the designated team for contests at London’s Wembley Stadium in 2009 and 2011, against the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears, respectively. In 2019, the Buccaneers went back to London to take on the Carolina Panthers, again serving as the designated team.

Since the 2005-2006 seasons, the Allianz Arena has been the home of FC Bayern Munich, the most successful German team in history. The team has won 30 national championships, 20 domestic cups and six UEFA Champions League titles. The Allianz Arena has a capacity between 70,000 and 75,000 and is the first stadium in the world with an exterior that can fully change colors from white to red to blue thanks to inflatable ETFE-foil air panels.

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