NFL cancels games in London for 2020


NFL and NHL cancelling European fixtures Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

The National Football League (NFL) will not play a single game outside the United States (US) this year.

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

The league announced recently that its five scheduled international games for 2020 – four in London and one in Mexico City – will instead be played stateside due to the coronavirus outbreak which has beaten the world to pulp.

“After considerable analysis, we believe the decision to play all our games domestically this season is the right one for our players, our clubs, and all our fans in the US, Mexico and UK,” NFL Executive Vice-President, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer Christopher Halpin said.

Halpin added, “We greatly appreciate the support of our Governmental and stadium partners in Mexico and the United Kingdom, who all agree with this decision, and we look forward to returning for games in both countries in the 2021 season. We also thank our incredible fans in those territories for their passionate support of the NFL. We will continue to serve them through our outstanding media partners and by being active supporters of both grassroots football and COVID-19 relief efforts in Mexico and the UK.”

The Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins previously announced they would be home teams for international games this year. They will instead play all their home games in their usual stadiums. The Jaguars were slated to be the first team to play consecutive games overseas.

The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football team based in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The Cardinals compete in NFL as a member club of the National Football Conference (NFC) West division. The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta. The Falcons compete in NFL as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference South division.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a professional football franchise based in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars compete in NFL as a member club of the American Football Conference South division. The Miami Dolphins are a professional American football team based in the Miami metropolitan area. The Dolphins compete in NFL as a member club of the league’s American Football Conference East division.

Earlier, the league had been planning to feature one game in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, two in London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and two more at Wembley Stadium in London. The NFL has had a game at Wembley for 13 straight seasons.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, stated, “While the NFL’s many fans in London, the UK and Europe will obviously be disappointed by this news, it is absolutely the right decision to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the sport. I know that the NFL remains fully committed to London and I look forward to welcoming NFL teams back to the capital in 2021.”

Remarked Alistair Kirkwood, Managing Director of NFL UK, “The NFL’s London Games have become a major part of the NFL season and the UK sports calendar. But the uncertainty in the current sporting landscape and the tremendous amount of long-term travel and planning required to stage successful London Games mean this is the sensible decision to make.”

“Ahead of our games returning next season, we will continue to strengthen our ties to the UK community this season through programs such as NFL Flag and the NFL Academy,” added Kirkwood.

Commented Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Daniel Levy, “We fully appreciate the difficult decision that the NFL has had to make, given the unprecedented circumstances everyone around the world is facing. We were overwhelmed with the response we received from everyone at the inaugural NFL matches in Tottenham last year at our new stadium – the sport’s only purpose-built stadium outside of the United States – and we were proud to deliver world-class facilities for the NFL family.”

“We look forward to welcoming everyone from the NFL back to Tottenham in 2021 as we further develop our unique partnership and create even more memorable game days. Until then, we wish the NFL a successful season ahead and send our sincere thoughts and well-wishes to everyone who has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Levy added.

Mark Burrows, Football Association’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Wembley Stadium has had the privilege of hosting NFL games for the past 13 consecutive seasons, and they are undoubtedly one of the highlights of the stadium’s calendar. We were of course looking forward to welcoming teams back to Wembley this autumn – in particular, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were due to be the first NFL team to play back-to-back international games here in London.”

“However, we understand the challenges that sports across the world are facing as a result of this crisis and, as a valued partner, we fully support the NFL in their decision to schedule all games in the US this year. We wish them every success for the new season and stand ready to welcome the NFL back to our iconic venue in the near future,” Burrows stated.

NHL cancels Europe fixtures in 2020-21

The National Hockey League (NHL’s) stated priority is to play a complete 2020-21 season, even if it starts as late as December this year and even as the league tries to restart the current season that was put on hold on March 12 due to coronavirus outbreak.

The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America, presently consisting of 31 teams: 24 in the United States and seven in Canada.

However, there won’t be games in Europe in 2020-21 as the league and the NHL Players’ Association announced the postponement of the 2020 NHL Global Series on May 8.

“The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the NHL remain committed to maintaining and growing our international presence,” the organizations said in a joint statement.

“We hope that our fans overseas understand the need to postpone the 2020 games, but we look forward to being back with them in 2021,” the joint statement added.

The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators were scheduled to open the 2020-21 seasons in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Boston Bruins are a professional ice hockey team based in Boston. They compete in NHL as a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. The Nashville Predators are a professional ice hockey team based in Nashville, Tennessee. They compete in NHL as a member of the Central Division of the Western Conference.

The Bruins were scheduled to conduct part of their training camp in Mannheim, Germany, and play a preseason game against professional ice hockey team Adler Mannheim of Germany while the Predators were to hold some of their training camp in Bern, Switzerland, and face ice hockey team SC Bern in a preseason game.

The professional ice hockey team of Denver (US) Colorado Avalanche and the professional ice hockey team of Ohio (US), Columbus Blue Jackets, were also supposed to play two games in Helsinki, Finland, later in the regular season.

“We are disappointed by the postponement of our trip to Finland but look forward to having the opportunity to play in front of Finland’s passionate hockey fans in the future,” Blue Jackets General Manager (GM) Jarmo Kelalainen, the league’s first European-born GM, said in a statement released by the team.

The professional ice hockey team based in Philadelphia – Philadelphia Flyers – and the professional ice hockey team based in Chicago (US) – Chicago Blackhawks – opened 2019-20 seasons in Prague – the third consecutive season the NHL revived games in Europe – and the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres played two games in Stockholm, Sweden, on November 8-9 last year.

The first NHL games in Europe were held in 1938 with a postseason tour featuring the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens. There have also been NHL games in Japan, China and Puerto Rico since then.

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