NFL calls off China exhibition game

Updated: April 2, 2007, 5:32 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The exhibition game scheduled for China in August was postponed Monday by the NFL, which said it wanted to concentrate its "global resources" on next October's regular-season game in London.

The game had been set for Aug. 9 in Beijing, the second of two consecutive contests between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, who had been scheduled to meet in Seattle the previous week. NFL spokesman Michael Signora said Monday that game also had been called off.

Although San Francisco and Arizona met in Mexico City in 2005, the NFL has never played a regular-season game outside North America. The first will take place in London on Oct. 28 between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins, with Miami designed the "home" team.

Mark Waller, head of NFL International, said that game takes precedence, forcing the cancellation of the first China game, which now is tentatively scheduled for 2009 -- the Olympics will be held in Beijing next summer.

"Our assessment is that Chinese fans would be better served if our game in China is played at a later date after we have launched our international series of regular-season games and more effectively paved the way for the introduction of our game into China," Waller said in a statement issued by the league.

"As a new sport in China, it is critical that we create the best platform for the introduction of the game. We are delighted Beijing authorities have agreed with our assessment and have invited us to play in Beijing in 2009."

The league is currently setting up an office in Beijing.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James said the Patriots remained interested in playing a game in China. He also noted the Patriots in 2004 became the first NFL team to launch a Web site in China.

The Seahawks called the cancellation a "missed opportunity."

"Although we certainly understand, we are disappointed with the missed opportunity and remain interested in the future," Seahawks chief executive officer Tod Leiweke.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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