Written by Audrey De Ridder3 minutes read
This weekend is today: NFL Europe. This season, five NFL games will be played outside America. The Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs will meet in Germany on Sunday. In Frankfurt to be precise. “It’s a great initiative by the NFL,” NFL commentator Hubert Bedford said.
“They have clearly wanted to globalize for a long time,” Bedford said. “In the 1990s they tried to start a competition in Europe, and a few years later they made a second attempt.”
More than fifteen years ago, an NFL game in Europe was nothing special. Between 1995 and 2007, Amsterdam had its own NFL team: the Amsterdam Admirals. The team played in the NFL’s European League, which was founded four years earlier. The competition had a similar approach to the NBA G-League, as young players had to take their first steps there.
Admirals in D Arena
The Amsterdam Admirals played against teams such as the London Monarchs, Berlin Thunder and Barcelona Dragons. “In London and Germany this was already happening at the time. In the Netherlands it was less so. Enthusiasm for the sport was great, but spectator numbers were disappointing. It did not come close to the number of spectators who came to watch football. “It attracted one Matches in Amsterdam have approximately 15,000 spectators.”
In 2007 the competition was disbanded. The NFL in Europe achieved very little, and the NFL was losing millions every year.
“They’ve now discovered that you can achieve the same goal by playing regular NFL games in Europe,” Bedford says. “That way you get international interest in the sport. It’s very popular in England and Germany, and attracts a large audience.”
Test for more NFL in Europe
The NFL has hinted that these games are a test of sorts. The sports organization examines interest in American sports from a European perspective.
The NFL could then field four European teams. Instead of eight divisions consisting of four teams, the NFL will have six divisions. Six teams will play in each division. For example, the four European teams will play in the AFC, while two current teams in the AFC will switch to the NFC.
“European teams are not a good idea at the moment”
“Never say never, but I don’t think this will happen in 10 years,” Bedford says. “As a fan, I really enjoy those matches in Europe, because then you can visit them. But as a journalist, I don’t think it’s smart to do that at the moment.”
Bedford is especially concerned about all the travel. “If you base teams here, all those American teams will have to fly here every time. This will destroy these players. I also saw that in the match in England with the Bills, these players were completely exhausted. I doubt whether this is smart.” “It would cost a lot of money and energy and I don’t know if it would increase the quality of the game.”
Sunday’s calling card for the future of the NFL in Europe
For now, a number of NFL games a year in Europe is the best solution, Bedford believes. “I think they should increase the number of international matches. We are now at five. You can expand to 10 matches outside America in the coming years. Then a third of all teams will play in Europe every year.”
The matchup between the Chiefs and Dolphins will play a major role in this, according to Bedford. Bedford said he expects a great spectacle: “The best quarterback in the NFL will be in Europe this weekend, and the fastest receiver (Tyreek Hill), the current champion and Super Bowl contender. All the ingredients for a great game are in Germany.” .
“This match will truly be a calling card for the future of NFL in Europe. This will be a great advertisement for the sport.”
The game between the Chiefs and Dolphins can be watched live on ESPN 4 on Sunday at 3:30 p.m
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