The NFL has expanded abroad over the years between destinations like Germany, London and Brazil. Now, the league is taking its talents to Spain.
The first-ever NFL game will be held at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, home to Real Madrid C.F., in 2025, the league announced Friday.
Madrid is the first new market confirmed to join the 2025 International games and will become the fourth European city to host a regular-season NFL game. It joins London, Frankfurt and Munich.
“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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
“We are proud to partner with Real Madrid C.F., a global brand, together with the City of Madrid and Comunidad de Madrid, to bring a spectacular regular-season game to Spain at the world-class Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.”
Here’s everything to know about the upcoming contest.
NFL in Spain, explained
The NFL is doubling its international games lineup from four to eight starting in the 2025 season, with Madrid the first to be announced. Notably, the Bears and the Dolphins own international marketing rights in Spain, making them potential participants in the game (teams have yet to be announced).
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell views the expansion as a way to further the leagues global footprint and grow the brand more places it has not seen before.
“We are proud to partner with Real Madrid C.F., a global brand, together with the City of Madrid and Comunidad de Madrid, to bring a spectacular regular season game to Spain at the world-class Santiago Bernabéu Stadium,” Goodell said in a statement.
Madrid is equally anticipating the event.
“The union between Madrid and the National Football League is full of passion and excellence. We thank the NFL for having the trust in Madrid to host an unprecedented celebration in a legendary and renovated Santiago Bernabéu stadium, that will no doubt vibrate with every play of this historic event,” said Mayor of Madrid Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida.
The NFL has already unveiled its lineup of 2024 NFL international games. On top of the first-ever game in São Paulo, Brazil, London will host three contests — two at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and one at Wembley Stadium. The NFL also takes Germany for the third year in a row, coming back to the Allianz Arena for one of the games.
Madrid time zone
Madrid is in the Central European Time Zone (CET). All of the mainland of Spain has functioned under that time zone since 1940.
That puts it 6 hours ahead of Eastern Time Zone, which several NFL games in North America play under. Many NFL fans are used to the games like the ones in Germany and the United Kingdom being played very early in the morning with the vast difference in time zones.