The NFL’s International Dilemma

After playing many games overseas, many are torn about whether or not having a professional team outside of the country is a good idea


Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash

The NFL is one of the most popular athletic organizations in the world. But does that mean that fans overseas will be as excited about football as the U.S.?

Chase Creech, Staff Writer

The National Football League is the most profitable professional sports league in the world. Bringing in roughly 13 billion dollars annually, they are considerably more successful than any other league. 

The NFL has begun expanding, trying to turn their product into one that can be enjoyed by fans internationally. So far, the NFL has successfully played games in England, Mexico (Mexico City), and Canada. These countries fanbases have shown their support for their respective football teams, and have had the luxury to be able to witness a game happen in their stadiums within their own countries for the first time. The devotion, enthusiasm, and compassion these overseas fans have for the game of football has begun to gain more traction for a team to move to one of these countries full time. 

The NFL hosts games in international stadiums, the most prominent stadiums that are used by the NFL are Wembley stadium, Totteneham Hotspur, Twickenham, and Estadio Azteca. These stadiums average around 80,000 people in attendance to watch these football games since 2007. 

The Los Angeles Chargers have “fully committed” to moving to the Los Angeles Rams stadium which is $4.5 billion in 2020. The Chargers current predicament is that they play in a soccer stadium and that there’s a possibility that they will move their franchise internationally. When the Chargers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles, this caused the Chargers to become a major disappointment. The Chargers moved to Dignity Health Sports Pack “StubHub center,” the soccer team LA Galaxy use this stadium and the stadium currently holds a capacity of 27,000, which is the smallest capacity out of all other NFL stadiums. When the Chargers were in San Diego the stadium they used was SDCCU Stadium which was primarily used by them and could hold a colossal amount of people (70,000). Unfortunately, many critics said the stadium was poorly built which caused it to fall apart relatively quickly. Stadiums like Estadio Azteca has had poor on field conditions. Earlier in the year when the Chiefs played the Chargers, the field surface was deemed unsafe. The turf had major conflict, during the game it caused Hunter Henry to trip after a 16 yard catch. Later in the game there was a huge divot that appeared, this had caused safety issue and conflict with the actual game.  

The Los Angeles Chargers have sparked controversy when the NFL had discussed the idea of having the Chargers moved to London. The Athletics Vincent Bonsignore stated, “The possibility of the Chargers moving to London has been broached among league personnel,” and the “Chargers would at least listen if the NFL approached them about London as a possible option.” The growing support from international fanbases for the Chargers has been splendous.

The NFL and former athletes have expressed their dismay of travelling internationally, and the teams that travel are at a “disadvantage”. When travelling to London a great deal goes into preparing for the game like equipment supplies that weigh around 5000 pounds are sent several months prior to the stadiums, another 25,000 pounds is sent over flight (practice equipment, helmets, pads, jerseys, cleats, computer & audio-visual equipment). Therefore, preparation for an NFL game is vigorous and performing these games 16 times a season or more then their will be some problems. 

The most prominent factor is the athletes and staff’s health when travelling. The athletes have to consume the right amount of food that is nutritious and they have to be hydrated. Some athletes experience Jet Lag which can cause an athlete to underperform since they don’t have the energy to perform at a high level during the game. Coaching staff experience these conditions as well, Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden gets claustrophobic when on planes, and suffers from vertigo. The Raiders travel the most in the league (32,023 miles in 2019). Travelling long distances can be detrimental, so teams that will be located in London will have an “advantage” because travelling takes a major toll on teams. Pat Mcafee explained on his show, “Musk will create a portal at some point where you just hop in and pop out in Europe, but for the time being I just think you should have games played over their so that all the fans of all the teams in Europe which is what happens.” He later explained that most of the fans in Europe are just fans of American sports and that it wouldn’t be an advantage for the team in London.