When Crystal Palace takes on London rivals Charlton Athletic today, February 2 at 3pm at Selhurst Park, Croydon, the club’s Crystal Girls will host cheerleaders from the American football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are in the UK to promote the Super Bowl, which takes place in New Orleans this Sunday February 3.
The NFL cheerleaders will be part of the half-time entertainment and Jackson DeVille, the Jaguars’ mascot will also be at the match. This appearance comes as Jacksonville signed a four-year commitment to the NFL International Series in London. They will play one ‘home’ game every year of the contract at Wembley Stadium.
Since 2007 the NFL has hosted regular season American football games outside of the U.S. In 2013, for the first time, Wembley will be host to two NFL games, the first between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings, and the second between the Jaguars and one of the teams competing in this year’s Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers.
On February 1, the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, announced that both 2013 London games were sold out.
This will likely be considered a positive sign especially since the Jaguars themselves came in last in their division this season and are therefore not necessarily the most glamourous choice of teams to represent the league across the pond.
On Twitter, NFL Network reporter Albert Breer tried to explain why the NFL has made the move to promote their sport internationally: “Hard for NFL to grow much more domestically, because it’s so popular, so adding inventory (18 games, more playoffs, London) is one answer.”
Until 2016 at least one regular season NFL game will be played at Wembley.
The NFL has set up a UK site, that even offers to teach enthusiasts the basics of the American sport.