NFL calls off 2020 international games

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The National Football League has called off plans to play any international games in 2020 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The league had intended to have one game in Mexico and four in the UK as part of its international play plan this year, but travel restrictions stemming from the public health crisis led it to mandate that all games be played this year in the US.

The league said it also made the move “in order for the entire season to be played in NFL teams’ stadia under consistent protocols focused on the well-being of players, personnel, and fans.”

The Mexico game, involving the Arizona Cardinals, was to be that team’s first game in the country since 2005. And in London, the Jacksonville Jaguars were due to play two home games this fall at Wembley Stadium, while the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins were each going to be designated the home team for separate games played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

“After considerable analysis, we believe the decision to play all our games domestically this season is the right one for our players, our clubs, and all our fans in the US, Mexico, and UK,” said Chris Halpin, NFL executive vice president and chief strategy and growth officer. “We will continue to serve [fans in Mexico and the UK] through our outstanding media partners and by being active supporters of both grassroots football and Covid-19 relief efforts in Mexico and the UK.”

The NFL is continuing its plans to release its full 2020 regular season and preseason schedule later this week. The league confirmed that it will release the schedule on May 7, and is highlighting the unveiling with a three-hour, prime-time special that will run on the NFL Network, NFL.com, and the NFL App.

In the meantime, the league and NFL Players Association are determining when players can re-enter and use team training facilities. The NFL and the union have agreed thus far to keep the facilities closed until every state where a team operates lifts stay-at-home mandates. Until that happens, teams are conducting organized team facilities in a virtual format.