NFL heading to Spain for 2025 game


NFL playing in Madrid Image: Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, uggboy, CC BY 2.0

The NFL is going full throttle with its international ambitions and has announced a first ever regular-season game in Spain in 2025.

AP said the league announced last Friday at the Super Bowl that its international slate of games for the 2025 season will feature a tie-up at Real Madrid’s iconic Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

In just two months, the NFL has swiftly expanded its international footprint. Spain will be the fifth different country to participate in the NFL’s International Games, following the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany and Brazil, and the third European nation to do so.

The NFL also recently announced that Brazil will host an NFL regular-season game in the 2024 campaign, the first ever to be held in South America. The Philadelphia Eagles are the designated team to play in the São Paulo game, which will take place in Week 1 on Friday, Sept. 6.

Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s head of international affairs, said, “We could not be more excited to bring the best of the NFL, the best of our teams and star players to the more than 13 million passionate fans in Spain and partner with one of the greatest global soccer clubs in Real Madrid in a truly world class and innovative stadium.”

The teams that will play in that game will be announced at a later date, but O’Reilly said the host team would likely be an AFC team because teams in that conference will have an extra home game that season.

The first-ever game in Madrid — for which the league unveiled a new logo proudly featuring “Madrid Game” — will take place in 2025, and not 2024, because the NFL and Real Madrid only recently finalized their agreement.

The NFL isn’t in a huge hurry, though, and with the recent renovations of Bernabéu Stadium now complete, the two parties felt it was the perfect time to strike a deal.

Emilio Butragueno, Real Madrid’s director of institutional relations, said, “I would like to express our deepest gratitude to you and to let you know that it is a great honor for Real Madrid to host this international event with the NFL over the next few years in our stadium. For us, you are a model of management and a great traveling companion with whom to share our dreams.”

The renovated Bernabéu Stadium features a retractable playing surface that makes it possible to replace the soccer pitch with an NFL-caliber field, eliminating a massive hurdle to holding a game at the facility.

It also follows in the footsteps of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in England, which was purposely built to serve as both the home of the Premier League club and also as a top-tier destination for international NFL games.

Since its completion, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has hosted eight NFL games, including two in the 2023 season, and in September, the NFL extended its partnership with the club through the 2029-2030 season.

O’Reilly said plenty of teams have already expressed interest in the game in Spain.

AP further stated that Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce is among those who would jump at the opportunity after playing in Germany this year, as well as London and Mexico City in the past.

He said, “That would be epic. It would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m going to go talk to (owner) Clark Hunt right now and get that bid in. Any chance we get to go out of the States and play internationally, you would be silly not to jump at that opportunity. The fan bases are every bit as electric if not more outside of the United States. If the Chiefs get out there to Spain, we’ll make sure to have some fun.”

O’Reilly said the league is looking at other potential countries to host a game in the future.

Expansion of the International Series benefits the NFL beyond simply increasing the popularity of the league. With flag football entering the Olympics as an official event in 2028, the NFL is spreading the game around the globe in an effort that could even include moving the Pro Bowl Games overseas.

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