American football’s NFL has announced that it will host a regular season game in Madrid, Spain in its 2025 season.
As part of the annual NFL International Series, the game is set to be played at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, home of iconic soccer club Real Madrid.
The stadium, which recently underwent a major redevelopment, features a retractable soccer pitch with an NFL-spec turf beneath it, making it one of the only venues in Europe outside of London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium able to field an NFL game with a true NFL-standard turf.
Real Madrid will likely look to replicate a similar long-running agreement with the NFL that Tottenham Hotspur have.
With the announcement, Spain will become the fifth country outside of the US to host an NFL game as part of the International Series after Mexico, the UK, Germany, and Brazil, which will host for the first time in 2024. Toronto, Canada, has also hosted NFL games in the past though not as a part of the International Series.
In 2023, NFL team owners voted to expand the number of International Series games up to eight, allowing the league to explore new avenues for hosting.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated of the move: “Playing a game in Madrid in 2025 highlights the continued expansion of the league's global footprint and the accelerated ambitions to take our game to more fans around the world.”
The NFL already has a presence in Spain, with two of its franchises, the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins, granted marketing rights to the country under the NFL’s Global Markets program, which sees marketing rights to various international territories distributed among many of the league’s teams.
Real Madrid have been eyeing up the hosting of an NFL game at the Bernabeu for several years, with club president Florentino Perez stating he was exploring the possibility of a game being held at the venue as far back as 2021.
The announcement of the game coincided with reports that streaming service Prime Video had secured the rights to exclusively air an NFL playoff game in the 2024 season.
Amazon, Prime Video’s parent, secured the rights to the exclusive slot by reaching previously agreed-upon viewership numbers for its slate of Thursday Night Football broadcasts, which achieved double-digit year-on-year percentage viewership gain through the season and notched record streaming viewership twice.