Fútbol Americano logo
|Date||October 2, 2005|
|Stadium||Estadio Azteca, Mexico City|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann, and Paul Maguire|
"Fútbol Americano" was the marketing name used for the first-ever National Football League regular season game ever held outside the United States. Played on October 2, 2005 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31-14. The game drew an NFL regular season record of 103,467 paid fans.
The name "Fútbol Americano" is Spanish for "American football," a term used to distinguish it from fútbol, which is Spanish for association football (soccer in American English). Fútbol is an approximation of the English word "football" to the Spanish phonology; a more literal translation of "foot ball" is balompié, a calque term that is not used nowadays in Spanish-speaking countries other than for stylistic purposes in media.
Beginning in 1986, the league held a series of annual pre-season exhibition games, called American Bowls, that were held at international sites outside the United States. Several years later in his annual news conference prior to Super Bowl XXXIX in February 2005, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that the league was considering holding regular season games outside the United States, with Toronto and Mexico City as the primary candidates.
In March, the league announced that the first NFL regular season game outside the United States was to be played on October 2, with the Cardinals facing the 49ers in Mexico City. It was scheduled as a home game for the Cardinals, mostly because the team rarely sold out at their then-home field, Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.
To mark this historic game, all NFL players during that weekend wore "Fútbol Americano" stickers on their helmets, while "Fútbol Americano" banners were placed in all league stadia. (In the 2012 season, home team stadia had "Fútbol Americano" stencils, goalpost wraps and banners placed in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month.) The league does not consider this 49ers-Cardinals game in Mexico City as an "American Bowl", nor officially lists it as part of the NFL International Series (see below).
The San Francisco 49ers got all the momentum scoring two fumble returns for touchdowns and taking a 14-0 lead with 7:57 to play in the first quarter. However, San Francisco would never score again. In the second quarter, the Arizona Cardinals scored two field goals and a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with an unsuccessful two-point conversion to still trail 14-12 at halftime. Kicker Neil Rackers, who scored two field goals in the second quarter, scored two more in the third to take an 18-14 lead. Arizona then dominated the fourth quarter, as they scored a field goal (21-14), a touchdown (28-14), and another field goal to win the game, 31-14.
After the success of the 2005 Fútbol Americano game, the NFL began holding more regular season games outside the United States. Beginning with the 2007 season, the league has hosted games every year at London's Wembley Stadium in a series known as the International Series. The series expanded to a second London venue in 2016 with a game at Twickenham Stadium. Starting in 2018, the primary venue for International Series games will switch from Wembley to the new stadium being built by the Premier League's Tottenham Hotspur. From 2008 to 2013, the Buffalo Bills played one regular season game at Toronto's Rogers Centre in what was known as the Bills Toronto Series.
To this day, the 2005 Fútbol Americano game is one of only four NFL games played outside the US to have aired on American national television, the others being a New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game in Toronto in 2009, which aired on NFL Network; a Detroit Lions-Atlanta Falcons game in 2014 in London that started at 9:30 a.m. ET and was broadcast nationally on FOX; and an International Series game between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders in 2016 held at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City and televised by ESPN. The latter game was the first Monday Night Football game held outside the U.S.
All other games in the Bills Toronto Series and NFL International Series have been regionally televised like any other NFL Sunday afternoon game.
London's Wembley Stadium has been the site for every International Series game played thus far.