The National Football League’s International Series roster continues to expand with news that Spanish capital Madrid is to host a regular season game in 2025.
The announcement confirms the NFL’s continued prioritisation of global growth by taking the International Series to new cities and markets around the world, and follows hot on the heels that the Philadelphia Eagles will be the nominal ‘home’ team for the league’s first venture to Brazil — in a game to be played on the Friday of opening weekend.
The first-ever regular season game in Spain, meanwhile, will be played at the iconic Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home to multiple European soccer champions Real Madrid, and confirms speculation that Spain would, indeed, be the next addition to the International Series schedule after São Paulo.
“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 statement. “We are proud to partner with Real Madrid C.F., 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.”
Alongside the club, city and community of Madrid, the game will be delivered with the support of the Spanish government and High Council of Sports.
“The National Football League’s arrival at the Santiago Bernabéu is a major event in sport history,” Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez noted. “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.”
Fifty regular season NFL games have now been played internationally since the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants kicked things off at Wembley back in 2007, with London, Munich, Frankfurt, Mexico City and Toronto all having hosted games to date. São Paulo will join that list when it stages the first ever regular season game to be held in South America at the home of soccer team SC Corinthians.
Madrid is the first new market to be confirmed for the 2025 International Games and will be the fourth European city to host a regular season game after London, Frankfurt and Munich.
“The union between Madrid and the National Football League is full of passion and excellence,” the mayor of Madrid, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, concluded.”We thank the NFL for having the trust in Madrid to host an unprecedented celebration in a legendary and renovated Santiago Bernabéu stadium, that will no doubt vibrate with every play of this historic event. The arrival of the NFL in Madrid will make us hosts of the most important league in the world, and the city will welcome our partners with open arms in 2025 and be ready to make history together.”
In addition to the game in São Paulo, four other regular season games will be played as part of the 2024 NFL International Games. London will host three — two at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and one at Wembley Stadium — while Germany remains on the schedule for a third consecutive year, returning to the Allianz Arena, home of FC Bayern Munich, for one game after the back-to-back fixtures staged in Frankfurt in 2023.
Following the expansion of the NFL schedule in 2021, up to four of the teams from the conference whose teams are eligible for a ninth regular-season home game were designated to play a neutral-site international game each year. Last year, clubs voted to increase ‘league-operated’ international games from four to as many as eight per season, beginning in 2025. Those eight league-operated international games do not include club-operated games, such as the Jaguars hosting annual games at Wembley.
The Dolphins and the Chicago Bears have international marketing rights in Spain as part of the NFL’s Global Markets Programme.