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So the National Football League went across the pond this weekend. All the way to Wembley, England to play a regular season game. Football met futbol. I wasn’t surprised when the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins played to a sluggish and ugly 13-10 Giants win because the players and coaches had complained about the game preceding it. What I was surprised to see was more than 81,000 fans attend the game.

Remember, these are the Giants and Dolphins. Not the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts or Dallas Cowboys. The Dolphins were 0-7 entering the game, the Giants have now won six straight, but don’t exactly excite you. It was the equivalent of the Premier League sending Derby County and Everton to the United States for a game. And would that ever happen? No, because the Premier League would want to showcase its best talent. It would send over a member of the Big Four. There is no way the Premier League would risk showing a marginal product on the pitch as soccer tries to grow in the U.S. Also, the logistics of playing a regular game overseas and messing with a team’s home and away schedule is also puzzling.

So why would the NFL send two non-premier teams to England and why would fans still show up? I know the NFL is trying to expand its brand globally like the NBA has done so successfully, but American football is a much different and more difficult sport to export. It’s almost a grass-roots effort to get it going in Europe. The NFL has to set up its own programs and get the sport developed in other countries because it is not an Olympic sport. It is truly and purely an American pastime.

And that is why I will be keeping a close eye on how the NFL and football begins to expand around the globe, notably in soccer-driven nations. With the resources of the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Major League Soccer, the beautiful game should be able to be developed in the U.S. I believe most U.S. soccer fans know that the game is played at a higher level in Europe and that it will help soccer if top teams come and play games in the U.S. It can show just how great soccer is to the casual fans. The fight for soccer in the U.S. seems to feel like it will always be an uphill battle, but there are the resources available to make it happen.

The NFL and the Premier League are both kings of their sports, economically and competitively; it will be interesting to see which one expands its empire into the other’s kingdom first.


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  1. NFL EUROPE has already failed once. Many people went to the game as a novelty. There are also many Americans who live in London Short term and long term. there are still many American’s in the rest of Europe (including military). I lived in London for 4 years. There are some who have interest in American “football” but I don’t see it ever getting past a novelity sport. They have sports which are far more exciting in the real football and rugby. They won’t tolerate watching 30 seconds of action then waiting for another five minutes to set up.

  2. Football vs gridiron.

    The international name for american football is gridiron.

    The nfl was more popular 20 years ago but now it is seen as some strange american steroid induced niche sport and will never be popular.

    NFL london had a type of circus feel to it, no real roots have been set in place fro griron in europe and never will.

    Football however is growing in the usa and has firm roots, the americans have even bought our golden balls over which is really interesting.

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  4. I don’t thing NFL is going to be as popular across the globe because it is a very expensive sport.

    Soccer is the most popular sport int he world because all you need is a soccer ball really. you need no gears, you don’t need to big or tall, you just need a ball. Hell you can even make your own ball it doesn’t have to be soccer balls.

    Also soccer is a simple spot to follow. The only rule is that you can touch the ball with your hand.

    NOw with American football there are many rules and it is a sport that requires many gear. It is also very violent and NFL knows better that it is not going to be as successful as NBA because basketball is another simple and affordable sport just like soccer that is very popular in the world as well.

    Soccer Fan

  5. Gridiron had it’s chance in the UK years ago. It failed and lost nearly $1 billion in NFL Europe.
    Football is huge in the USA, every school team has a team, they just are not very good that is all.

    Gridiron could not even sell out wembley stadium for the 2008 game, so the novelty has well and truly worn off.