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Pro football is heading to China


As the NFL expands to east to London, another brand of football is going west. To the Far East.

According to (via SportsBusiness Daily), ESPN’s Ron Jaworski is helping the Arena Football League establish a presence in China.

“We’re coming to a country that doesn’t know much about what American football is, but it’s a country that loves sports,” Jaworski said. “They will pick up on football very quickly. I watched the Olympics, and watched those weightlifters and I think, I’d like to have some of those guys on my offensive line.”

It won’t be an expansion of the Arena League. It’ll be a six-team, 10-game arrangement launching in October 2014. AFL coaches and trainers will travel to China to help teach the sport to squads that will contain a mixture of Chinese and American players at first. The goal will be to eventually have an all-Chinese league.

The NFL has toyed in the past with the possibility of playing preseason games in China. A contest featuring the Patriots was planned, but eventually scrapped.

Jaworski isn’t concerned that fans in China aren’t up to speed on the nuances of the game. “There are plenty of Americans who don’t understand football, but they still go to the games,” Jaworski said, not mentioning whether he was referring to any of his Bristol colleagues.