Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 11, 2019

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Will American Football Take Over China?


(Photo : Reuters) If CAFL has its way, China might be seeing a lot of this.


And China will never be the same again. 

Even as Beijing and Washington grapple over border disputes and trade deficits, the two superpowers are gearing to spar on a whole new front: the Gridiron. Led by Arena Football League (AFL) co-owner Marty Judge, former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworsk,i and former Super Bowl-winning NFL head coach Dick Vermeil, American football, with its punters, wide receivers, and tight ends, are poised to sweep the Middle Kingdom. 

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Set to kick off its inaugural season in 2015, the newly-created China American Football League (CAFL) will introduce the Yankee sports phenomenon to the Chinese masses in the form of six to eight teams in two conferences. The teams will be based in China's major cities. 

As an indoor-only league, the AFL tends to be relegated to the sidelines compared to the juggernaut that is the NFL, but Judge remains confident the format will translate well in China.

"The AFL is not as successful in the U.S. as the NFL is, but indoor football and arena football is just going to take China by storm," Judge told reporters with confidence, observing how in-door fields are more intimate. 

China has embraced numerous foreign sports, from table tennis to basketball. The high-adrenaline contact ones such as American football, however, tends to be still something of an unknown. For its part, the Chinese government is enthusiastic of the endeavour.

"This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring our great sport to China, and to do it with the cooperation of the Chinese government," beamed Jaworski. "I strongly believe American football will meet the insatiable sports demand from the Chinese growing consumer base, especially among the younger people."

Adds Judge,  "It's possible that someday the CAFL could be bigger in China than the NFL is [in the US]. In China there are 1.4 billion people. With the backing of the Chinese government, the sky is the limit for how we can grow American football in the vast, untapped Chinese marketplace."

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