The National Football League (NFL) announced on Monday that games during the 2020 season scheduled to be played in Europe have been moved back to the United States. While there was no comment beyond the announcement, the cancellation raises questions about the status of the league’s upcoming season.
In a tweet, NFL UK said that the league has made the decision to cancel games scheduled to be played across the Atlantic in order to ensure the safety of its players and fans. NFL Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy & Growth Officer Christopher Halpin released a statement announcing the change.
“The National Football League announced today that it will schedule all 2020 games in the United States in order for the entire season to be played in NFL teams’ [stadiums] under consistent protocols focused on the well-being of players, personnel, and fans.”
Further, the statement noted that the league wanted to thank its overseas fans for their support. Halpin added that league officials hope international games in Mexico and the United Kingdom will return in the 2021 season.
For more than a decade the NFL has been playing regular season games in London. As BleacherReport noted in 2013, Commissioner Roger Goodell is so optimistic about the league’s viability in Europe that he’s hoping to get a franchise in the United Kingdom’s capital city.
While London hasn’t received its own franchise, games played in the city have been rousing successes. Across four matches played in the city during the 2019 season, almost 290,000 fans were in attendance.
Similarly, the league has eyed expanding its brand into Mexico, a region where the word “football” conjures up an entirely different sport. As NFL.com reported back in January, before the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic was fully understood, the league had announced a plan to host a few games in Mexico City, following the success of a 2019 Monday Night Football game in the Mexican capital.
That the NFL has moved its scheduled overseas games back to the U.S. raises questions concerning further adjustments or delays 2021 NFL season. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the NFL is the only major sports league in the U.S. that hasn’t had to cancel games due to the coronavirus. This is due to scheduling, given that the previous season ended before the pandemic and there are months to go before the 2021 season begins. Apart from Monday’s announcement, the league hasn’t announced any decisions about if or how those games would be played.