By Jonathan Ntege Lubwama
- The NFL is looking for ways to strengthen the pipeline of international players in Africa and appeal to a broader audience to reach its goal of $25B in revenue by 2027
- At least 100 NFL players are of African descent (born in Africa or first generation)
Football, one of the most popular sports in the U.S. has finally started activities to expand its popularity to Africa. The National Football League (NFL) is looking for ways to strengthen the pipeline of international players and appeal to a broader audience to reach its goal of $25 billion in revenue by 2027. In effort to get there, the league held a talent identification camp, fan event and a flag football clinic in Ghana during a week dubbed NFL Africa:The Touchdown.
Why This Matters: At the NFL’s annual owners’ meeting in 2010, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell unveiled a then ambitious plan for international expansion. During the 2009-2010 season the league only raked in $8 billion. Fast forward to 2021, the NFL is on track to meet these goals, having made $18 billion in 2021, according to Sportico.
Even more importantly, the NFL is looking to grow the game globally from its core of 200 million fans in the U.S. Africa has been singled out as a potential market for this since the league has at least 100 players of African descent (born in Africa or first generation).
The NFL is belatedly following in the footsteps of the NBA, which has been hosting such camps in Africa for nearly two decades and which has also staged exhibition games on the continent. Not to mention the NBA has started Basketball Africa League that’s reached $1 billion in valuation.
What’s Next: Over the next few years, the NFL will look to spread the game across various African countries. Specifically, Nigeria and South Africa are touted as the next destinations after Ghana.
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