American football’s NFL has brought in Alexander Steinforth, currently the managing director of the Deutsche Sport Marketing commercial arm of the DOSB, the German Olympic sports federation, as its general manager for Germany, which is one of the league’s key expansion markets.
Steinforth will be responsible for “driving and executing the league’s business in Germany, involving fan growth, commercial success, live regular-season games and development of community programs.”
The league is currently engaging with three German cities – Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich – in detailed conversations that will, by February, result in a final destination being chosen as a host for regular-season NFL games in the country.
Steinforth will take up his new duties in early 2022, the league has said, and will be based in Germany, from where he will report to Brett Gosper, the NFL head of Europe and UK.
Prior to joining DSM in February last year, Steinforth spent three years as commercial director at Fortuna Dusseldorf, a club in German soccer’s top-tier Bundesliga, and before that two years as strategy manager at English Premier League soccer giant Manchester United.
His previous experience also includes time at the Deutsche Fußball-Liga governing body, the ProSiebenSat1 broadcaster, and the Boston Consultancy Group firm.
Steinforth said: “I am looking forward to this challenging and exciting new role. The NFL has great momentum in Germany and I am confident I can use my experience to create further opportunities to develop the sport and expand NFL’s fan base.
“The NFL is committed to growth in Germany and I am honored to be playing a part in that process.”
Gosper added: “We are very pleased to welcome Alexander to the NFL. He is a well-rounded candidate with strong leadership experience and a sharp commercial brain [and] the ideal person to be at the forefront of the expansion of our business in Germany.”
The NFL has said it believes the league currently has 19 million fans in Germany, with ratings on its local TV partners – ProSieben and over-the-top streaming platform DAZN – having grown by over 20 per cent annually since 2017.
The league, which first outlined its intention to look for a suitable German host city in June this year, has now identified the trio with which it will now take the matter forward before one location is eventually selected as the NFL's partner.
Those cities, the NFL has said, will “participate in deeper conversations about staging games”, before one is selected to join the likes of London in the UK as a host for NFL regular-season encounters.
Games have also previously been held in Mexico and Canada.
The NFL previously staged five pre-season games in Germany, between 1990 and 1994, and it had five German teams involved in the NFL Europe League, which ran under various guises from 1991 to 2007.
The 32 NFL franchises recently passed a resolution that from next year onwards, all teams will play internationally at least once every eight years, with up to four overseas NFL games to be scheduled each year.
Last month, Chris Halpin, the NFL’s chief strategy and growth officer, told GlobalData Sport that the league is “having excellent engagement … and we’ll be making the final announcement regarding the chosen candidate around the time of the Super Bowl [on 13 February 2022].
“There’s been a lot of creativity and passion from the trio of interested cities. They all really want to host games.”
He added: “Since I took over the international side of things, it’s been striking how powerful the German fanbase is, and by how much it’s growing.”