NEW YORK -- The exhibition game scheduled for China in
August was canceled 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
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.