NFL will add Spain to its international circuit in 2025

AP file photo by Daniel Ochoa de Olza / Real Madrid hosts Valencia in a La Liga soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
AP file photo by Daniel Ochoa de Olza / Real Madrid hosts Valencia in a La Liga soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

LAS VEGAS — The NFL is headed to Spain in 2025 for the first regular-season game ever in that country.

The league announced Friday that its international slate of games for the 2025 season will include one at Real Madrid's iconic Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

"We could not be more excited to bring the best of the NFL, the best of our teams and star players to the more than 13 million passionate fans in Spain and partner with one of the greatest global soccer clubs in Real Madrid in a truly world class and innovative stadium," said Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's head of international affairs.

The teams that will play in that game will be announced at a later date, but O'Reilly said the host team would likely be an AFC team because teams in that conference will have an extra home game that season.

O'Reilly said plenty of teams have already expressed interest. Count Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce among those who would jump at the opportunity after playing in Germany this year, as well as London and Mexico City in the past.

"That would be epic," Kelce said. "It would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'm going to go talk to (team owner) Clark Hunt right now and get that bid in.

"Any chance we get to go out of the States and play internationally, you would be silly not to jump at that opportunity. The fan bases are every bit as electric, if not more, outside of the United States. If the Chiefs get out there to Spain, we'll make sure to have some fun."

Kelce's Chiefs are in Las Vegas preparing to take on the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium.

The NFL has been expanding its international presence in recent years, with team owners voting in December to authorize the league to hold eight games internationally each season. Real Madrid was aggressive about getting into the mix.

"I would like to express our deepest gratitude to you and to let you know that it is a great honor for Real Madrid to host this international event with the NFL over the next few years in our stadium," said Emilio Butragueno, Madrid's director of institutional relations. "For us, you are a model of management and a great traveling companion with whom to share our dreams."

In 2024, the NFL will have three games in London — including a home game for the Jacksonville Jaguars, as usual — along with one in Germany and the first game ever in Brazil.

The NFL has also hosted several games in Mexico City and plans to return there in 2026 after the World Cup that year once renovations are finished at Azteca Stadium.

O'Reilly said the league is looking at other potential countries to host a game in the future.