Big Game Update: Countries with the Biggest NFL Fan Bases

The big game is fast approaching. If you find yourself outside of the vast, sports-obsessed confines of the U-S-of-A on game day, you might find yourself on a wild goose hunt trying to track down a live viewing of the biggest pigskin match of the year. The NFL championship, version LI, goes down on February 5th, 2017 in Houston. Tom Brady’s Patriots are set to take on Matt Ryan and the all-surprising Atlanta Falcons. Brady is all but a mainstay in the Bowl, while Matt Ryan is a career-long playoff choke artist, who up until recently, couldn’t silence the naysayers.

The game will be broadcast live on FOX and you can expect to see more angle innovations, over-the-top play-by-play commentary, and boastful banter than ever before. As usual, it will all be served with a heavy side of advertisements. But if you’re an expat, tourist, or simply a big international NFL fan, you could be at a loss for a place to watch the game.

But worry no more; we have compiled a list of the countries outside of the U.S. with the biggest NFL fan bases, as well as some tips for gathering a group and watching the game abroad. If you’re in or near one of these countries, you should be able to catch the game.

Mexico – Football Over Futbol?

This comes as no surprise. Given its proximity to the United States, coupled with Canada’s hockey obsession, Mexicans easily beat out our Northerly neighbors as the biggest NFL supporters. According to GlobalWebIndex, Mexico is home to some 23.3 million self-described NFL fans. The biggest mecca, of course, is Mexico City. Boomers and Taba Sports Bar will be packed to the brim with NFL fans on game day. Whether those 23 million football fans prefer the American sport to futbol remains to be seen. But, if you find yourself anywhere near Cancun, head over to Hard Rock Hotel Cancun. You will find ample big-screen opportunities to watch the game, both inside and poolside. And when in Guadalajara, you can’t go wrong with a trip to La Vitola, a hip, yet humble sports bar that shows all big-time NFL games.

Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya also plays as a good NFL host. This all-inclusive resort provides stunning tropical views, so in case your team is down, you’ll be a glance away from a pick-me-up.

Brazil – A Soccer Mecca with Countless NFL Fans

Brazilians are passionate about their soccer. And they are really, really good. Over 10,000 Brazilians play soccer professionally around the world. In fact, they often refer to their country as “o País do Futebol” (the “country of football”). Their style contrasts with the fundamental and methodical style of the Europeans, which has been transformed—much due to Brazilian influence.

But there’s another sport in town, all across this beautiful country. The other football, popularized in the United States, has long been a hit for Brazilians whose love of sports is only trumped by their love for grandiose celebrations, sunshine, and beaches.

Brazil even has two semi-professional American football leagues. And as the level of skill improves in Brazil, and NFL ratings rise within its borders, so too does the possibility of the NFL staging a primetime game. In fact, the NFL has already begun talking to officials in Brazil about doing just that. Brazil, the country responsible for inventing Jiu-jitsu and spreading Carnival culture, is drawn to the sport for both its dramatic displays and physicality.

In Rio, Sao Paolo, and Salvador, you will find large viewing parties, especially near the city centers. And you will be sure to meet a few friends in the process.

Canada – Fans Ditch the Puck and Have a Ball

Photo credit: s.yume via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Canadians are famous for hockey, humor, and humility. But Canada is also a big football country. The CFL draws large crowds, from Montreal to Vancouver. And NFL is a big hit as well, especially when there’s no hockey on TV.

If you’re in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver, best believe you can find a TV to watch the game. Just be prepared to buy a Canadian a few beers if a channel needs to be changed.

South Korea – Baseball Fanatics with a Love for Football

Photo credit: KOREA.NET – Official page of the Republic of Korea via / CC BY-SA

In South Korea, baseball is king. But football has gained popularity in recent years. With over six million self-proclaimed fans to watch the game with, you shouldn’t be hard-pressed to find a sports bar or hotel bar showing the game. Seoul is home to some 28,500 American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen—many of whom are stationed in or near Seoul, the nation’s bustling capital. If you spot an American service member, ask them where to watch the game or join one of the many online Korean expat forums on Facebook or Reddit to get some answers—and perhaps assemble a crew.

South Korea is home to 6.72 million NFL fans. That means that 1 in every 13 South Koreans consider themselves football fans. So maybe you could yell out “BRADY” on the streets of Seoul and hope for a reaction … and directions to the nearest TV airing the big game.

Germany & The United Kingdom

Photo credit: SpreePiX – Berlin via / CC BY-NC-ND

These two nations share a similarly strong love for American football. In the UK, London is the epicenter of football. The city hosts a few games every year. While many players complained initially, it’s become a popular trip for several teams, especially the Jacksonville Jaguars. Due to the locations of these annual games, and the sheer number of American expats in London, this global city is the European destination for America’s most popular sport.

Germany is home to nearly 7 million American football fans. If you’re living, working, or simply traveling in Germany come February 5th, opt for more touristy towns like Munich and Berlin, if you aim to find a place to catch the big game. The NFL even talked about staging games in Germany by 2017. Only time will tell if that happens.