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A Slow Global Expansion

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Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts carries Britain's Union Jack as he enters the field before the Jaguars met the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL football game at Wembley Stadium in London, Oct. 27, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Toby Melville

By Evan Weiner |

The National Football League has big plans to get its product, games, into China’s marketplace. But the league is not going to have a regular season game in the country in 2019.

The National Football League will have games in London with the hope that Tottenham’s stadium will be able to host some of those games. In 2018, the stadium opening was delayed as the building was deemed unsafe. There will also be a game in Mexico. The NFL could not stage a game in Mexico City in 2018 because the turf was in horrible shape and deemed unsafe for the players. The NFL has not had all that much success outside of the United Sta

tes. China has been a particularly difficult place for the NFL to establish any sort of business. China is a place where the NFL did not succeed in 2007. The NFL planned to send the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks to play a game exactly a year to the day prior to the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. For whatever reason, the NFL pulled the pre-season game. The NFL even at one point pulled back of all its international efforts except in England.

The NFL is stuck in the starting block in China. The league has a digital deal in place but little else. It is light years behind the National Basketball Association in building a business in China. The National Hockey League is making inroads in the country and has played pre-season games in Beijing and Shanghai. Hockey was a foreign sport in China until recently. China is trying to ramp up and get a team on ice for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The NFL has been fumbling its China initiative for a dozen years. The NFL has talked a big game about international expansion and has produced very little.

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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