The NFL opened its 2023 season in Kansas City on Thursday night, but Roger Goodell made it clear he is still focused on bringing pro football overseas.
“We really see football as a global sport,” the NFL commissioner told NBC ahead of the network’s broadcast of the Detroit Lions’ shock 21-20 upset of the Chiefs.
The defending Super Bowl champions will play in the NFL’s second-ever game in Germany this fall — which sold out within minutes of tickets becoming available. It’s one of five international matchups, including a second one in Germany and three in the U.K — but the NFL doesn’t want to stop there.
“We expect to do more games in the future,” Goodell said. “We’re looking at games around the world. We believe this is our next big frontier.”
Europe has been a major focus for the NFL, which has also played games in Mexico City and recently expanded teams’ abilities to market themselves internationally. The Los Angeles Rams have even been linked to a potential game in Australia.
Europe’s Permanent Potential
One of the hottest topics of debate around the NFL’s international expansion is the viability of a permanent franchise outside the U.S. — and Goodell didn’t shy away from the prospect on Thursday. “I don’t rule out anything,” he said. “I think it’s possible.”
Ideas for a European division picked up steam earlier this year, but there still doesn’t appear to be a clear formula for tackling the logistics of an international club.
“The debate we’ve always tried to work on [is] can you do it competitively?” Goodell explained. “And do it in a way that’s going to be fair, not just to that team but every other team?”
A strong run of European games in 2023 could go a long way toward realizing Goodell’s international ambitions.