American sports in the UK

There's more going on than you might think!

The US and the UK are sometimes fierce sporting rivals but they’re playing on the same side too. Many British sports have benefited from American influence and many American sports are becoming more popular in the UK.

There’s a lot of American influence within UK sport…

In football, Manchester United are owned by the Glazer family and Liverpool are owned by Fenway Sports Group, who bought the club in 2010 from two other American owners – George Gillett Jr. and Tom Hicks.

Plus, loads of the US team have played here in the Premier League too: Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin and some in the past as well, like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Brad Friedel.

But there are also a bunch of American sports that are popular here too…

Each year the NFL, the big American football league, play some of their games here in the UK! They’ve been doing it for a few years now. And these aren’t just friendly kickabouts, this is the real deal. The UK is the first country to host NFL league games outside North America.

American football games have been played at Wembley and at Twickenham Stadium so far but the NFL has just struck a deal with Tottenham Hotspurs to play at their new stadium. It’s going to host two games a year between 2018 and 2027. In fact, in 2018 there’ll be at least five league games in London!

There’s been American football going on in the UK for quite a while. Back in World War II, loads of the US Military were stationed in the UK and so they showed the Brits what it was. The first game was between US Navy servicemen from USS Idaho and USS Vermont.

American football became popular in Britain again in the 1980s. Teams were started close to air force bases where there was a big American presence – and now it’s getting even bigger! There are over 13 million American football fans in the UK and the number of players has doubled in recent years. The boss of the NFL now wants there to be a team based permanently in London! It might happen sooner than you think – in the next ten years or so.

American football isn’t the only sport to come over from the US. The NBA, which is main basketball league, have also visited the UK. Since 2011, games have been held each year at The O2 arena, with thousands of Brits going along to watch.

Hockey, baseball, wrestling… they’ve all got a big following! You just might not have read about it because soccer tends to steal the show! Maybe we’ll start playing American football in school soon!

Next page: American businesspeople in the UK

Learn more about the similarities and differences between the US and the UK – and how the two countries work together – in our series US-UK Slamdown!

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