The NFL will play its first regular-season game in Spain next year after announcing plans for a fixture at the Santiago Bernabéu, home of LaLiga football club Real Madrid.
Madrid is the first new market to be confirmed for the 2025 International Games and it will be the fourth European city to host an NFL regular-season game, after London, Frankfurt and Munich.
The game will be delivered by Real Madrid, the City of Madrid and the Comunidad de Madrid with support from the Spanish government and the High Council of Sports.
The announcement comes after NFL teams in December voted to approve an increase in league-operated international inventory from four up to eight games a season beginning in 2025.
Later this year, the NFL will play its first regular-season game in Brazil at São Paulo’s Neo Química Arena, home of Campeonto Brasileiro Série A football team Corinthians. Last week, it was announced that the Philadelphia Eagles will serve as the designated team for the game, which will take place on September 6.
The NFL will play four other regular-season games overseas this year. London will host three (two at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and one at Wembley), and Munich’s Allianz Arena will host one.
The teams for next year’s game in Madrid have not been confirmed, but the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears have international marketing rights in Spain as part of the NFL’s Global Markets Program.
The Bernabéu is currently in the midst of a major redevelopment project, which is set to be completed in the spring. The project marks the biggest transformation in the stadium’s 75-year history and features a new retractable roof, which was unveiled in September.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said: “Playing a game in Madrid in 2025 highlights the continued expansion of the league’s global footprint and the accelerated ambitions to take our game to more fans around the world.
“We are proud to partner with Real Madrid CF, a global brand, together with the City of Madrid and Comunidad de Madrid, to bring a spectacular regular-season game to Spain at the world-class Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.”
Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez added: “The National Football League’s arrival at the Santiago Bernabéu is a major event in sport history. This strategic alliance between Real Madrid and an organisation of the NFL’s prestige will boost our brands globally. It will be enthusiastically welcomed by millions of people on all continents, and it is an honour to embark on this journey together.”
With the upcoming game in Brazil, the NFL will have played a game (pre-season or regular-season) in five of the seven continents around the world. The Madrid announcement was made on Friday in Las Vegas ahead of yesterday’s (Sunday’s) Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.
Discussing the possibility of international games in more new territories, Peter O’Reilly, the league’s executive vice-president of club business, international and league events, said: “Nothing imminent in terms of going to Asia or Australia, but that’s something that we continue to consider because there are clearly great stadiums, great partners there.
“The travel is a factor, and that will be something we continue to look at. But there are real opportunities in real parts of the world that are important to reach with our game, and we will look to continue to do that and explore that operationally.”