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Rams, 49ers will likely play 2018 regular season game in China

A regular season game in China would easily be the most distance any team has traveled for a matchup.

Feng Li/Getty Images

The NFL's interest in expanding internationally has been mostly focused on London, but the league is hoping to play regular season games in China and Germany soon.

The NFL is looking to add China to its list of international destinations as early as 2018. At the league meeting in March, commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that the NFL was excited about a potential game in China and was trying to make in happen in the next few years.

A game in China would easily be the farthest distance from the United States for any regular season matchup ever, but that hasn't dampened interest from teams. NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed to Mark Maske of the Washington Post that several teams have expressed interest in playing a game in China.

The 2018 matchup will reportedly be between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, according to the Sports Business Daily. The Rams would serve as the host in what is expected to be their season opener.

"We have not announced the Rams’ opponent in the event we play a game there," McCarthy said. "We have said we are exploring playing a game there but nothing is definitive."

A game in Germany could come even sooner, with Albert Breer reporting the NFL is looking at the 2017 regular season as a possibility. Germany was previously considered a possibility for the 2016 season, but the NFL elected to only hold international games in Mexico City and London instead, although expansion to other markets has long been a goal.

While a 2005 regular season game was played in Mexico City and a developmental league called NFL Europe held games in a few European countries, including Germany, it has been a decade since a regular season game has been played anywhere outside of London or the United States. In November, a game between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders will break that streak with a game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

There shouldn't be any shortage of venues in China for the NFL to work with, including Beijing National Stadium (better known as the "Bird's Nest"), which was used for the 2008 Summer Olympics and seats 91,000 spectators. In Germany, there are plenty of Bundesliga stadiums that would be capable of hosting an NFL game.