The CFL has entered into a partnership with the Professional American Football League of Mexico which, according to commissioner Randy Ambrosie, could see players from Mexico playing in Canada under a new “global player” designation.
Ambrosie held a press conference in Mexico City at just after 11 p.m. EST time with his Mexican league counterpart and a translator that outlined the broad strokes of the new arrangement.
“Our plan in the short term is to welcome some of the very best players from Mexico into our great league under a new category ‘global player,'” Ambrosie said. “We’ve been talking to our governors, our teams, our players about the opportunities that this would create to expand the game of football, to bring to Canadian football and players from around the world to excite them and thrill them.”
Under the current rules, the 44-man game day rosters are made up of 21 nationals (or Canadian) players, 20 internationals (usually Americans) and three quarterbacks. Ambrosie didn’t say how a new “global player” designation would be incorporated into current rosters – or whether the issue would require a change to the collective bargaining agreement with the players’ association.
However, Ambroie did say that the two leagues have already begun exchanging game film.
“One of the things we started our relationship with was sharing game film so we could have our coaches and scouts see the players and I’m very happy to report that when they saw the players, they identified a large number of players that could be candidates to play in the Canadian Football League so it’s very exciting,” he said.
The deal appears to have been in the works for some time. According to a release on the LFA site dated Aug. 21, “a tryout will be held to select nine LFA players who will go to Canada to play” while Canadian players will participate in the league’s 2019 season.
The LFA was founded in 2016 and currently has eight teams and schedule starting in the third week of February and finishing in April with the Mexico Bowl. Teams are currently permitted to field two foreign players per team, usually from NCAA Division II or III schools. Ambrosie raised the possibility that Canadian players could also play in Mexico under the new arrangement.
Here’s a description of the league via Wikipedia.
American football has been played in Mexico for 90 years and is the sixth most popular sport in the country. In 2015 a group of investors decided to offer football while the NFL is offseason and founded the LFA, which would start two weeks after Super Bowl 50. Some of the players had not played for several years and most of them combined training and playing with other full-time jobs. In the first season, there was an average of 2000 attendees per game, and there were significant financial problems.
Ambrosie has been touting international cooperation under his “CFL 2.o” plan, which he touted in a blog post on Wednesday ahead on the announcement in Mexico.
“We have an opportunity today to begin a project together as partners to expand international football, to grow the game of football both here in Mexico and in Canada and around the world,” Ambrosie said. “This partnership is the first of what we plan on being an alliance between our two great countries, our two great leagues and the potential for that alliance to expand all around the world.”
See the full press conference here.