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CFL commissioner looks to expand league’s presence to Europe and beyond

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the league is trying to expand to new markets. Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press

The Canadian Football League wants to establish a global footprint.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie told Global News Radio CHML’s Bill Kelly that Mexico wants to host a CFL game in 2020. Ambrosie said the league has had outreach from a group in Europe that wants to bring the game there.

READ MORE: CFL and Edmonton Eskimos make history in Mexico

Earlier this year, the CFL signed partnership agreements with international football organizations in Mexico, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

As part of the CFL 2.0 initiative, 18 players from those countries were invited to the CFL combine.

“We did a Facebook live broadcast from the combine, and 420,000 Europeans tuned in to watch the bench press and 40-yard dash.  If we can get 420,000 fans to watch the bench press, can we get 840,000 to watch an actual game?” Ambrosie said.

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LISTEN: CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie sets up the 2019 season

The CFL commissioner also said he wants to take the league to a whole new level of success.

“It’s our time,” he said. “Why did we think for a moment that the world doesn’t deserve a chance to experience our great game? There’s six billion people on the planet. I like our chances of gathering 20, 30, 40 million of them and (turning) them into CFL fans, which would be transformational.”

READ MORE: CFL commissioner talks possible Mexico game, expansion franchise ahead of 106th Grey Cup

There is some concern, though, over the situation in Montreal, where a team that hasn’t been competitive for several years and has dwindling attendance at games means new ownership may be in the mix.

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Ambrosie said Montreal Alouettes owner Robert Wetenhall and his son Andrew are “working with the CFL to ensure Montreal remains a strong franchise. They remain steadfast in their support, in making sure that we have a good, strong franchise in that city.”

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats play their first preseason game on Saturday, June 1 in Ottawa. The Ticats then kick off the 2019 season by hosting Saskatchewan on Thursday, June 13.

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