The NFL could be inching closer to a future with an international division, according to a Front Office Sports report.
An anonymous owner told the outlet that it’s unknown whether the division could happen in two years, five years or another undetermined amount of time, “but there’s going to be an international division.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell previously mentioned the possibility of a four-team European division in October 2022, saying in a video posted to the NFL U.K. Twitter account that “we’re trying to sort of see, could you have multiple locations in Europe where you could have an NFL franchise? Because it would be easier as a division.”
All 32 have played an international game since the league first started in 2005 — when the Cardinals and 49ers met in Mexico City — and the league expanded its international presence in 2022 when the Seahawks and Buccaneers played in Germany.
The Giants and Jets have played one international game in London during the 2022 and 2021 seasons, respectively, and the pair of teams have combined to play five games outside of the United States since the NFL International Series began.
“I think what we are focused on is building capacity so if there were that opportunity — whether a club wanted to consider relocation or potentially looking at expansion — we are in that mode,” Peter O’Reilly, the NFL executive vice president for club business and events, told Front Office Sports. ”In London, where we’ve been for a long time, and now in Germany, we’re making sure we’ve got the stadium partners, the governmental partners, and the fan support to sustain that possibility.”
After five international games in 2022, the league will play five games — three in London, two in Germany — outside of the United States in 2023.
The Bills and Patriots will join the Jaguars by playing a game in London, while the Chiefs and Patriots will become two of the next teams to play in Germany.
It’s unclear, at this point, who their opponents will be.
If the league were to create an expansion division, it’d mark the first time adding a team since the Texans joined in 2002 — which brought the NFL to its current 32-team total.
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