NFL approves regular-season game for Brazil in 2024 in more international expansion

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IRVING, Texas (AP) — The NFL is adding Brazil as its first regular-season destination in South America next year.

An increase in the number of international games by 2025 means other new cities are on the way.

The league said Wednesday at the owners meetings in the Dallas area the 2024 game will be played at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The stadium has a capacity of nearly 50,000 and was a venue for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

The NFL also announced a doubling of the potential international games from four to eight in 2025, not counting an additional game that Jacksonville has the option of including each year.

There were five international games this year, three year in London and the first two in Frankfurt, Germany. There will be five more next season — another three in London along with a return to Germany and the addition of Brazil.

Spain got strong consideration for the bid that went to Brazil, and the NFL made it clear a regular-season game was coming to the European country at some point. A return to Mexico also is expected.

“I think our focus is on looking at where are those next markets based on where the fan passion exists, where the opportunity is to have the greatest impact,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president for club business, and international and league events. “It’s not mapped today, and that’s the flexibility we have working with the clubs.”

At the December owners meetings two years ago, the league designated home marketing rights for teams in various countries as part of a strategy to build fan growth internationally. Miami is the only team with such rights in Brazil.

“Bringing the NFL to new continents, countries and cities around the world is a critical element of our plan to continue to grow the game globally,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Brazil has established itself as a key market for the NFL.”

Pollster IBOPE Repucom published a study in February in which it said the NFL has more than 35 million fans in Brazil. In 2013, only 3 million Brazilians paid attention to the sport, the pollster said.

Local estimates say 2.5 million Brazilians watched this year’s Super Bowl, almost 20% more in comparison with the previous edition. Brazil has the second-largest international fan base behind Mexico.

Sao Paulo Mayor Ricardo Nunes led the Brazilian contingent that made a presentation to owners in Texas, and smiled widely as he held a football during a news conference.

“The right choice was made,” Nunes said through a translator. “With the game in Sao Paulo, Brazil, will surpass Mexico as only behind the U.S. in terms of total number of fans.”

The stadium in Sao Paulo belongs to Corinthians, one of Brazil’s most popular soccer teams, and is part of the country’s bid to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup.

“We are immensely happy and proud with this partnership,” outgoing Corinthians president Duilio Monteiro Alves said. “There were many months of studies and negotiations, including two visits to Europe and many meetings at the stadium so we could get here.”

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AP Sports Writer Mauricio Savarese contributed from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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