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

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NFL approves regular-season game for Brazil in 2024 in more international expansion
AP
SCHUYLER DIXON
December 13, 2023

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.”

In other news Wednesday:

— Los Angeles will host the Super Bowl to wrap up the 2026 season. That means LA will get a Super Bowl, World Cup soccer and the Summer Olympics in a little more than a two-year span. The 2028 Games will be in Southern California.

— NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said the league will seriously consider banning the so-called hip-drop tackle. Goodell echoed Vincent's comments.

The tackle results in players being dragged down from behind and has led to serious lower-body injuries for Dallas running back Tony Pollard and Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews, among others.

— Vincent dismissed as false a report suggesting the league or Goodell wanted to get rid of the “tush push” quarterback sneak perfected by Philadelphia. Goodell said he wants to hear both sides of the discussion after the season.

“Philly does it better than everyone else. That's a fact,” Vincent said. “You won’t want to punish anyone for doing something well.”

— Vincent said kickoffs have become a “dead ceremonial play” with the infrequency of returns. The league wants to hear ideas from coaches on improving the return rate of less than 20% this season without reversing the progress on injuries.

“We'd like to see that higher, but we also want to make sure the injury rate is addressed,” Goodell said. “We're going to have to do what we've done before, which is make the game more exciting and make it safer at the same time. We've proven we can do that, and we're going to do it.”

The league is using a one-year rule that allows fair catches anywhere on the field. They are the same as touchbacks, with the ball placed on the 25-yard line.

— Vincent said the league will review the rule that gives the defense the ball at the 20-yard line on a fumble into the end zone and out of bounds. Some argue the offensive team should keep the ball where the fumble happened.

“Many believe it may be too punitive with that penalty,” Vincent said.

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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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