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The NFL in Mexico City dates back decades

While the International Series has only brought regular-season games to Mexico since 2016, the NFL in Mexico City actually dates back to the 1970s.

This Monday, November 21st, 2022, the Estádio Azteca will host the fifth edition of the NFL Mexico Game, pinning the Arizona Cardinals against the San Francisco 49ers. The game is part of the 2022 NFL International Series, which included three games in London, Munich, and Mexico City. 

And while the International Series itself only goes back a few years, football in Mexico goes back many decades. Let’s take a look at that history.

The NFL first came to Mexico in the 1970s

Since 1978, the NFL began hosting exhibition games in the country, including five trips as part of the American Bowl in 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2001.

The first regular-season game played outside the United States occurred on October 2nd, 2005, when the Cardinals beat the 49ers 31-14 in front of 103,000 spectators at Estádio Azteca in Mexico City. Coincidently, those teams will face each other seventeen years later in the same stadium.

Two years later, the Miami Dolphins clashed against the New York Giants in the British capital, marking the beginning of the International Series as a regular feature in the NFL calendar. In 2016, Mexico joined the ranks again, and in 2022 we had the first game in Germany.

Now, the league has its eyes on new markets and could broaden the International Series calendar starting next year with countries like Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brazil, China, Australia, and Canada.


Talking specifically about the Mexico Game, these have been the results of its previous iterations:

November 26, 2016: Oakland Raiders 27-20 Houston Texans

November 19, 2017: New England Patriots 33-8 Oakland Raiders

November 19, 2018: Canceled 

November 18, 2019: Kansas City Chiefs 24-17 Los Angeles Raiders

All international games were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. 


  • The Estádio Azteca has the record for the second-highest attendance at a regular season NFL game, with 103,467 fans in the 2005 match.
  • Estádio Azteca is the biggest stadium in Latin America, with a larger capacity than Estádio Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • With an elevation of 7,382 feet, Estádio Azteca is 2,000 feet higher than Empower Field at Mile High in Denver. 
  • The teams that have participated in the Mexico Game are the Raiders (2), Texans (1), Patriots (1), Chargers (1), and Chiefs (1).
  • Starting in January 2022, the teams that have International Home Marketing Areas initiatives in Mexico are the Cardinals, Cowboys, Broncos, Texans, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Steelers, and 49ers.
  • There are 48 million NFL fans in Mexico, the largest number outside of the U.S.