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NFL planning to play international games in 2021

Mike Florio and Charean Williams react to Roger Goodell's comments on the state of diversity in the NFL's hiring process and discuss whether anything will change until Goodell and league owners are made to feel at risk.

The NFL canceled five international games in 2020 due to the pandemic. Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday the league intends to return to the United Kingdom and Mexico in 2021.

COVID-19, of course, will have the final say in whether that happens.

“We are planning for international games in ’21,” Goodell said. “That’s the approach we’re going to take. We obviously are going to stay in close contact with our partners in the U.K. and in Mexico and make sure that we are doing that safely. If at any point in time we don’t think we can execute on it safely, we will make that determination.

“We hope to get back there and we’re planning for it, and we’ll make that decision whenever we have enough information to do so.”

The NFL had four regular-season games scheduled in London and one in Mexico City in 2020. The cancelations meant Wembley didn’t host at least one regular-season game for the first time since 2007.

The NFL likely will make a final decision on its 2021 international schedule in May before the schedule release.

“Last year, I think we ended up deciding not to play the international games sometime right before the schedule was announced. I think it was in April,” Goodell said. “I think that was done after a lot of consultation, not only with our medical officials, but also looking at the risk with the Players Association of traveling the entire party over in a stadium that we weren’t able to implement our protocols. Not that they don’t have protocols, but we had very tight protocols at our stadium, and we felt it was safer in our 30 stadiums here in the country, where we knew those protocols were being implemented along and consistent with our policies.”