October 7, 2015 / 4:45 PM / 4 years ago

NFL expands commitment to international games, may play outside UK

(Reuters) - NFL owners voted on Wednesday to extend the league’s commitment to play international regular-season games through 2025, including the option to play outside of the United Kingdom beginning next season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York, August 31, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTX1QGPD

The resolution, ratified during a one-day owners’ meeting in New York, broadens a 2011 agreement that permitted the NFL to schedule games at London’s Wembley Stadium through 2016.

“This marks an important step in our long-term international growth,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Fans in the UK have responded incredibly well to the regular-season games we have played in London since 2007.

“They have demanded more NFL games and we have worked to accommodate them.”

The 2016 schedule of international regular-season games will be announced later this fall, the NFL said, with other countries in addition to the UK in contention to host the games.

Mexico and Germany are widely seen as the leading contenders.

“We think it’s time to expand our international series to other countries and respond to the growing interest in our game not only in the UK but elsewhere around the world,” Goodell said.

Three NFL games will be played this season at Wembley Stadium in London.

The New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins, 27-14, at Wembley last Sunday before a sellout crowd of 83,986. The Buffalo Bills play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 25 and the Detroit Lions face the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 1.

NFL owners approved a resolution in 2006 to play up to two international regular-season games per season from 2007 to 2011. The 2011 resolution was UK-focused and permitted the NFL the flexibility to decide the number of UK games from year to year. 

The NFL played only one game in Wembley for six seasons before raising it to two games in 2013 and then to three in 2014 and 2015.

In July, the NFL and the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur soccer club announced an agreement to play a minimum of two games per year during a 10-year deal at Tottenham’s new stadium, due to open in the summer of 2018.

Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott

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