The American Football League (NFL) is planning to play international matches again in 2021 in Mexico and the United KingdomCommissioner Roger Goodell advanced Thursday at a press conference prior to Sunday’s Super Bowl.
On his 2020 calendar, the NFL He had planned to play a regular season game at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and another four in London, two of them at Wembley Stadium and another two at Tottenham Hotspur.
The irruption of the coronavirus pandemic, however, led to the NFL will cancel all these games in May, the celebration of which is now on the table again.
“We are planning international matches for 2021. That is the strategy we are going to take. We stay in close contact with our partners in the UK and Mexico to make sure we are doing it safely. “Goodell stated.
“If at any point we feel that we cannot execute it safely, we will make a determination,” he said. “Last year we decided not to play international matches (…) after consulting not only our medical officials, but also seeing, together with the players’ association, the risk of making the entire group travel to a stadium where we were not going to be able to implement our protocols ”.
Now “we hope to return, we are planning it, and we will make that decision when we have enough information to make it,” he said.
The pandemic also forced the NFL to cancel the preseason and suspend numerous games of the campaign, which will conclude with the Super Bowl game played on Sunday by the Kansas City Chiefs, reigning champions, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa (Florida).
– “I don’t know if normality will return” –
Regarding the safety conditions for next season, Goodell acknowledged that even the start of the distribution of covid-19 vaccines does not guarantee a return to the previous conditions.
“One of the things I have learned is not to project too far in advance because it is difficult to do so”, he claimed.
“I don’t know when normalcy will return, and I don’t know if normalcy will ever return,” he admitted. “But I know that we have learned to live in a very difficult environment, we have developed solutions and we will do it again. That is what we believe has been the lesson for us this year ”.
The commissioner also promised that the NFL “He will not skip his turn” to provide vaccinations to his players and staff.
“We support the priorities set by medical experts for the vaccine “, he claimed.
Any decision on the return of fans to the stadiums – most of the games in the NFL They have been held this season in empty stadiums – it would be taken in consultation with local health authorities, Goodell said.
The NFL has invited about 7,500 vaccinated health workers to attend Sunday’s Super Bowl as part of a limited capacity of about 25,000 spectators.
– Minorities in the NFL –
Regarding the efforts to achieve greater racial equality in the NFL, Goodell acknowledged that the latest coaching hiring process did not deliver the expected results in that area.
Of the seven head coach positions left vacant after the regular season, only two were awarded to minority candidates: African-American David Culley joined the Houston Texans and Robert Saleh, of Arab descent, was hired by the New York Jets. .
These additions bring the number of minority head coaches on the league’s 32 teams to five.
Goodell said this issue dominated conversations between those responsible for the NFL and team owners for the past year.
“We had two minority coaches hired this year, but it was not what we expected, and it is not what we expect in the future,” stressed the commissioner.
Although the NFL Introduced the groundbreaking “Rooney Rule” in 2003 – which requires teams to interview ethnic minority candidates every time a head coach position becomes vacant – this policy has not made much difference.
The number of three African-American coaches in the NFL current is the same as when the rule was introduced 18 years ago.
The NFL has received accusations for institutional racism in recent seasons due to the tendency in teams to favor white candidates for head coach positions, despite the percentage of black players reaching 70%.
“We’re going to keep watching and see what went right, and what went wrong,” Goodell said of upcoming conversations with the teams.
With information from AFP
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