The NFL will play its first regular-season game in Spain during the 2025 campaign, the league confirmed Friday.
It will take place at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the home of Real Madrid C.F. The team that is selected to "host" will replace one of their home games with the overseas competition.
The announcement comes as part of the league's continued effort to grow the sport's global audience. In December, NFL owners voted to expand the number of international games each season from five to eight starting in 2025.
"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," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a news release. “We are proud to partner with Real Madrid C.F., 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."
In the league's history, 50 regular-season NFL competitions have been played abroad. The NFL International Series has featured contests in London, Munich, Frankfurt, Mexico City and Toronto. All-Pro Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has played in some of those destinations, and he's already put in his bid for the Spain game.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the Chiefs' Super Bowl clash with the San Francisco 49ers, Kelce referred to the prospect of playing in Real Madrid's iconic stadium as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
.@Chiefs TE Travis Kelce has played games in London, Mexico City and Frankfurt, Germany, as part of the @NFL's International Series. Asked about the prospect of a game in Spain, Kelce said it would "legendary" and that he welcomes any and all overseas games. #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/3R3A81hETG
— KSHB 41 News (@KSHB41) February 8, 2024
On Monday, the NFL announced that the Philadelphia Eagles will open the 2024 regular season in São Paulo, Brazil. The game will be hosted at the Corinthians Arena, home to Brazilian soccer team the SC Corinthians, for the first-ever regular-season game in South America.
The NFL announced in January that four teams had been selected as hosts for 2024 international games. The Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars will each play games in London, and the Carolina Panthers will host a matchup in Munich. The league doesn’t have a game scheduled for Mexico City due to renovations to Estadio Azteca.
There will be plenty of soccer crossovers, as the Bears and Vikings will host their respective matchups at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Jaguars are slated for a return to Wembley Stadium, while the Panthers' game in Munich will be at Allianz Arena, Home of FC Bayern Munich.
The league will announce opponents and dates for the 2024 international contests when the NFL schedule is released in the spring.