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NFL International Series To Return in 2021

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has stated that so long as it is safe to do so, the International Series games will return in 2021.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic may have prevented the NFL from playing their annual international games in London and Mexico City last year, but as 2021 begins to take shape, commissioner Roger Goodell has made their stance on the International Series clear: "We will be back".

"We are planning for international games in 2021. That is the approach we are going to take," said Goodell on Thursday.

This news comes as no surprise thanks to the growth of the sport abroad, particularly in Europe. In fact, as of 2021, the Green Bay Packers are the only franchise yet to play in London. However, the investment in the International Series goes far beyond the simple love for the sport.

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The league has spent handsomely in recent years to increase their presence abroad, again particularly in Europe. This investment includes the NFL Academy, geared toward giving Brits top-level coaching and the opportunity to earn football scholarships Stateside. Then there's the NFL's financial contribution toward the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, the first purpose-built NFL stadium outside the U.S.

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However, despite the overriding optimism that London and Mexico City can return to the NFL's schedule in 2021, it is far from a done deal at this point, especially given that the U.K. is currently still in lockdown.

"We are obviously going to stay in close contact with our partners and make sure we are doing that safely," said Goodell. "If at any point we don't think we can do that safely we will make that determination."

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Mexico City had been scheduled to host one game in 2020, with London slated to host four, including two of the Jacksonville Jaguars' home games - the first time any team had done so.

With Jacksonville increasing their presence in London, their owner Shahid Khan's ownership of London based Fulham FC, the league's investment in the aforementioned stadium, and the rise in the number of games being hosted by the English capital, it seemed somewhat inevitable that ultimately there would be a franchise across the pond.

Naturally, the pandemic has put any prospects of a move on hold for the time being. But if nothing else, the somewhat divisive international games look set to return this year - Covid permitting.