Fútbol has long had the title of the “world’s sport”, and it has the evidence to prove it. The Encyclopedia Brittanica references how FIFA estimated “that at the turn of the 21st century there were approximately 250 million football players and over 1.3 billion people “interested” in football.” It continues on to say that in 2010 a combined audience of more than 26 billion people watched the World Cup finals on television. So quite obviously, the statistics back up the claim that Fútbol, not Football, is the world’s sport.
The question is, can American Football achieve such international prominence? In recent years, the NFL has placed a significant emphasis on not only broadcasting games in other countries, but playing them there as well. This is most clearly seen in the case of the NFL games being played at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Wembley is home to some of Europe’s best soccer, and features matches from not only club teams like Tottenham, Manchester United, and Chelsea, but also international matches featuring England, Spain, Germany, etc.
For the NFL to host 14 games in London since 2007 is remarkable. Recently, the NFL announced a new partnership with the Rugby Football Union that will see NFL teams play in the Twickenham Stadium in London for at least the next three years. Sophie Goldschmidt, the RFU’s chief commercial and marketing officer is quoted saying “The NFL has a strong and growing fan base in the UK, and this, combined with the investments we've made in our stadium will give fans more opportunities to experience the action first-hand at a world-class venue.” If American Football is working its way into the heart of the soccer world, a country home to the most famous league in the Barclays Premier League, is it possible that it is progressing to the worlds sport?
The answer now probably would be “not likely, but down the road maybe”. But outside of just England, the NFL is growing in popularity in Australia. With San Francisco’s recent experience with Australian Rugby Star Jarryd Haynes has caused interest to peak in Australia. A page on Facebook titled “Bring the NFL to Australia” has been created in light of this interest and has garnered over 3,000 followers in this time. Other news from foxsports.com.au reported a story titled “NFL approves plans to host more games internationally with Australia possible option for all-star game.” Although currently these are just rumors and speculations, it is interesting to see that American Football is achieving such international interest.
So to go back to the initial question, “Can American Football become an international game?” It definitely seems that the potential is there, but it is also evident that this sport is still working its way up the ranks in international followers.
Weil, Eric. "Football | Soccer." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 08 June 2015. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.
Fitzgibbon, Liam, and Melanie Dinjanski. "NFL Approves Plans to Host More Games Internationally with Australia Possible Option for All-star Game." Foxsports.com.au. Fox Sports, 09 Oct. 2015. Web. 3 Nov. 2015. [Link broken as of 7/13/2020]
"NFL Reaches Agreement to Play Games at Twickenham Stadium." NFL.com. National Football League, 3 Nov. 2015. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.