(Reuters) - National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Wednesday that China is too big a market to ignore and the league is working on holding a regular season game there within the next couple of years.
Goodell, speaking during a news conference at the end of the NFL owners meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, said “multiple” teams were interested in making the trek for a first regular season game in Asia.
“The size and the influence of China in the global marketplace is obviously something that you can’t ignore,” said Goodell. “You can’t ignore that as a sport, or a business, or as a nation.
“We know we have lots of fans over there, and more importantly, potential fans over there.”
Goodell also said the NFL, which has scheduled three regular season games to be played in London during the 2016 season and another in Mexico City, was spending “a great deal of time” talking about further expansion internationally.
He said a regular season game in China would increase the NFL’s popularity there and that there was no shortage of teams lining up to make the trip.
“As far as the teams, we actually have multiple teams that are interested in playing. We have more than we can handle at this point in time, which is a good issue,” Goodell said.
“I think teams are interested in participating in how we expand our game on a global basis, but in particular in China. We will have to go through that process over the next several months.”
The Los Angeles Rams, who are already schedules to play the New York Giants at London’s Twickenham Stadium this year, have been mentioned in multiple reports as a team interested in making the trip to China for a game during the 2018 season.
China was scheduled to host a preseason NFL game in 2007 to kick off the one-year countdown to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, but the game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks was postponed and ultimately canceled.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue