NFL to return to London with two games next season
American football’s NFL has today announced it will resume its international games in London with two matches in the 2021 season.
As part of the league’s international games programme, the New York Jets will face the Atlanta Falcons on 10 October, and the Miami Dolphins will take on London regulars the Jacksonville Jaguars on 17 October.
Both games will be staged at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as part of the league’s 10-year agreement with the English Premier League soccer club.
The NFL was unable to stage its traditional London games last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The league played 28 games in the UK capital over 13 consecutive seasons from 2007 to 2019.
The Jaguars will be playing their eighth ‘home’ game in London, while the Dolphins will be playing in the UK for the fifth time. The Falcons and Jets will both take the field in London for the second time.
Christopher Halpin, NFL executive vice-president and chief strategy and growth officer, said: “We have been working closely with the UK government, the city of London and the relevant health organisations over the past year in planning the games.
“Through their successful vaccine rollout and commitment to bringing crowds back to sports events, the time is right for the return of NFL football this fall. We will continue to monitor the Covid environment, putting health and safety first, and will adhere to any and all future Covid regulations and restrictions.”
The NFL recently voted to extend its international fixtures after expanding the regular season to 17 games.
The league’s 32 owners approved a proposed schedule rotation that will require every team to play at least one international game every eight years.
The NFL’s proposal is to have four teams move a home game to a ‘neutral site’ international stadium each year, which would mean each of the 32 clubs would travel outside the US at least once every eight years in place of a home date. The plan is set to come into effect in 2022.
The NFL is believed to be eyeing matches in an additional European country, likely to be Germany.
It was recently reported that Florentino Perez, the president of Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid, is exploring the possibility of hosting NFL games at the club’s renovated Santiago Bernabeu stadium when it reopens next year.
As well as London, the NFL has played six regular season games in Toronto, Canada and four in Mexico City.
The full 2021 NFL regular season schedule was set to be announced today.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins have announced a new partnership with Heineken, the international brewing giant.
The brand will serve as the exclusive import beer and hard seltzer partner of the franchise and their Hard Rock Stadium in what marks its first deal with an NFL team.
Heineken will operate eight branded bars throughout Hard Rock Stadium, with branding in the southwest corner quadrant of the stadium.
The international brewing company will additionally be given a hospitality lounge inside the stadium.
Trough the tie-up, the brand will also be promoting its alcohol-free Heineken 0.0 product during the fourth quarter of pre-season and regular season home games.
As well as in-stadium branding, Heineken will feature on the Dolphins’ digital channels, while the two parties will collaborate on a custom co-branded content series and influencer activations.
Although this is Heineken’s first sports partnership with an NFL team and stadium, the brand has a long-standing presence in other US sports with team partnerships across Major League Soccer, the National Women's Soccer League, and ice hockey’s NHL.