Wed, Mar 23, 2016 - Page 19 News List

NFL eyes regular-season China game

CHALLENGING:A game in China could pose more logistical problems than London matches because of the significant time difference and amount of travel involved


The NFL could be headed to China in a couple of years — for a regular-season game, no less.

The league is looking into playing a game in China as early as the 2018 season. A detailed analysis of how much interest there would be in such a game in the world’s most populous country is under way, and is being discussed this week at the owners’ meetings.

However, few details, including which Chinese city the league will target, have been settled.

Quietly, several teams have expressed a willingness to be involved in a game in China, although the logistics would be more challenging than participating in annual regular-season series in London.

For one, heading to China after playing a Sunday game and then suiting up again the following Sunday could be problematic considering the hefty time difference and travel involved.

This year, the NFL is to stage three games in London and return to Mexico for a regular-season game in November.

The London matches are to feature Washington against Cincinnati and Indianapolis facing Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium, the usual venue for NFL games in England, with the Bengals and Jaguars playing the role of hosts.

The Giants face the Rams at Twickenham Stadium, a rugby ground being used for football for the first time, with the Rams hosting.

On Nov. 21, Oakland are to host Houston at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, the first NFL game there since 2005, when Arizona beat San Francisco 31-14 in front of a stadium of 103,467 fans.

The NFL had planned to play a pre-season game in China once before, in 2007 in Beijing, but it was canceled.

A trip to China would be the longest for the NFL, which has staged exhibition games in Japan and Australia.

Pre-season games were played in Tokyo in 1976, 1989-1996, 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2005. One match was played in Osaka in 2002. One game was played in Sydney in 1999.

Germany also has expressed interest in hosting an NFL regular-season game.

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