American football is one of the most popular sports in the world. After having been predominantly associated with sports in North America, it is starting to spread its wings across the world. Today, there are more than 80 countries where there are governing bodies and federations for the sport.

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These may seem small numbers especially in comparison with football/soccer, which is effectively played in almost every country across the world and with more than 200 governing bodies across the globe. Yet, American football is clearly starting to become more than just about North American shores. It has been able to spread its wings across the Atlantic and the Pacific at the same time.

Growing Popularity in China and Europe

China and Europe are seen as the biggest regions where American football has grown tremendously in the last decade. The popularity in Europe has largely been instigated by the emergence of Moritz Boehringer, the German who became the first player to go from the European league straight into the NFL.

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The wide receiver was picked up by Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the NFL draft 2016. Actions like these have served to make people take up notice of the game over the side of the Atlantic. A new sport penetrating into the minds of Europeans is not easy, as the likes of Formula One and football are incredibly popular over here.

Any sports marketer will be tempted by the huge population of sports fans in Europe. Unlike some other regions of the world, Europe happens to be a hotbed for legal gambling. It is also a place where sports fans often regard betting to be more fun than the actual sport itself. This is true in the case of football where a huge number of bets are being made on each game. Yet, the widespread consensus is that the market may have achieved its peak and that the emergence of new sports and options – preferably like the American football betting odds – is essential.

Region Specific Growth

The sport has been growing in huge numbers specifically in certain parts of the globe either through talent promotion or through the work of marketing professionals.

Germany

There are several divisions of professional soccer in Germany, but the most popular form of American football in this part of the world happens to be the German football league, which was founded in 1979. It consists of 16 teams and it has the same rules as the NCAA. The division’s popularity has grown in recent years, as fans have watched players progress to bigger and better things. The standard of the league has gone up significantly and the recent drafting of Boehringer is a testament to this fact.

As soon as the Boehringer has been elevated to international stardom following this move, a lot more youngsters are targeting a career in American football as opposed to a regular soccer, where competition is much higher.

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England

London is a hotbed for the NFL after hosting a few of the league games over the course of the year. The vibrant city of London offers a great market for NFL and American football.

More than 8.5 million people who reside in the city, and most of the sports companies in England have been welcoming of the American football so much so that games have been hosted stadium’s designated as a football ground. Perhaps, the biggest sign of the growing number of stadiums that can host both NFL games and soccer games.

Tottenham are building a brand-new stadium at a cost of £750 million, and it is expected to emerge as the next popular destination apart from Wembley for hosting the NFL games.

While the initial popularity in growth has especially been pronounced in London, NFL executives believe that the sport will spread across the country and the continent just as it did in North America when it was originally started in the central regions.

The key difference with regard to the popularity of American football in England and Germany is that the sport is being aggressively promoted in the former. On the other hand, Germany’s growing association with the sport has been created by players doing well.

The presence of players like Boehringer has meant that German TV now provides free access to NFL matches, and these further serve to increase the popularity. If Boehringer manages to become a top player in the NFL, the popularity of American football in Europe is expected to increase even more. There is likely to be a ripple effect felt across the continent.

Final Thoughts

Up until now, there were few ways to achieve the highest possible recognition in American football – playing in the NFL. Boehringer’s move could provide confidence that European players can make it to the top level even while not playing in the college levels.

 

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Lauren Scullion is a lifelong Cowboys fan, secret Packers fan, Dallas Cowboys/ NFL writer, social media guru and NFC East know-it-all.