IRVING, Tex. — The NFL will play a regular season game in Brazil next season as the league targets a new overseas venue in its bid to broaden its international appeal.
The game will be played in São Paulo. The NFL did not specify the date of the game or the participating teams. The Miami Dolphins have NFL marketing rights in Brazil. An NFC team would be in line to be the home team, based on the NFL’s schedule rotation.
NFL team owners approved the plan during their one-day meeting Wednesday at a Dallas-area resort. The league had chosen Brazil over Spain as its next overseas host. A future game could be played in Spain, perhaps in 2025.
“We couldn’t be more excited about it,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a news conference. “The ownership is incredibly excited by it. … This marks obviously the first time we’ve played in South America, either a regular [season] or preseason game. It is a big step for the NFL on a global basis.”
The mayor of São Paulo, Ricardo Nunes, and other Brazilian representatives attended Wednesday’s meeting.
“The city of São Paulo has been developing a lot in terms of the number of jobs [and] revenue,” Nunes said through an interpreter. “This will be one major event that will contribute to that.”
The NFL said the game will be played at Corinthians Arena, the home of Brazilian soccer team Corinthians. The stadium hosted games during the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016.
The NFL has established itself as the most prosperous and popular professional sports league in the United States but has fallen behind other leagues, particularly the NBA, in cultivating international fans and participants. The NFL has made a push in recent years to close that gap, focusing on England and Germany as its overseas hosts.
Now it will include Brazil, the world’s seventh-most-populous country. NFL officials previously said they’d done site visits in Brazil and Spain to explore the countries as potential hosts of regular season games. They’d also mentioned France and Australia as prospective game venues.
The league is expected to play three games in London next season, two at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and one at Wembley Stadium involving the Jacksonville Jaguars. It is expected to play one game in Germany next season, and the game in Brazil replaces a second game in Germany in 2024.
The owners ratified a resolution Wednesday to play as many as eight international games per season, up from the current four, beginning in 2025. That is in addition to the Jaguars’ games in London.
“Obviously that shows the clubs’ continued commitment to international growth [and] the demand that exists around the world to host our games and to engage with us on a year-round basis,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president of club business, international and league events.
NFL leaders previously told the owners to contemplate increasing the annual inventory of international games. With each team playing 17 games per season, some within the sport envision the possibility of each team ultimately playing eight home games, eight road games and one international game.
Alternatively, some have mentioned the possibility of eventually having at least one NFL franchise based in London.
The league also is expected to return to playing games in Mexico City in the future. The NFL put that on hold because of stadium renovations at Estadio Azteca.
O’Reilly said he anticipates the NFL will “ramp-up” to playing eight to nine (with the nine including the Jaguars) international games per season, rather than scheduling that many immediately in 2025 when the new resolution takes effect. He said the league’s plan for where those games will be played each season is “not mapped today,” but the NFL will have “some optionality” for determining the year-to-year hosts of its international games alongside annual staples such as London, Mexico City and Germany.
“We’re not going to be successful if it’s about going in and just playing a game and leaving,” O’Reilly said. “That’s not what we did in London. That’s not what we’re doing in Germany. That’s not what we’ll do in Brazil. This is about [the] game as an anchor and a catalyst, but year-round engagement.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday he favors an increased inventory of international games, although not necessarily involving his team too often.
“I think it’s good,” Jones said. “We’ve never done one where we had to give a [home] game up. And that’s something that we haven’t been interested in doing. … So we’re not likely to step out there when we don’t have to.”
NFL leaders have said they see the inclusion of flag football in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles as a vehicle to broaden the sport’s international popularity.
The owners also voted to award the Super Bowl in 2027 to Los Angeles.
That is the next available Super Bowl, with the game set to be played in Las Vegas next year, in New Orleans in 2025 and in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2026. It will be the second Super Bowl played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.