NEW YORK (AP) — Nine athletes from eight countries will compete for a spot in the NFL's International Player Pathway Program for 2020.

Started in 2017, the program's goal is to provide international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level and earn a spot on an NFL roster.

Past members of the program who appeared in NFL games this season include fullback Jakob Johnson with the Patriots and defensive end Efe Obada with the Panthers.

The league has identified athletes from eight countries who will compete for a place in the program. The NFL also widened its search for international talent, hosting a combine in Germany in October with players from 18 countries participating.

Isaac Alarcon (Mexico), Otavio Amorim (Brazil), David Bada (Germany), Leo Krafft (Norway), Boqiao Li (China), Chris Mulumba (Finland), Sandro Platzgummer (Austria), Antoni Podgorski (Poland) and Bernhard Seikovits (Austria) will begin training in the United States next month. They will have the opportunity to showcase their talents to NFL club scouts in March in hopes of being signed as a free agent or being selected for practice squads for next season through the program.

One of the NFL's eight divisions, chosen at random, will receive the international players selected for the 2020 program if none is signed to a free agent contract.

At the end of training camp, each player will be eligible for an international player practice squad exemption with his assigned team. This provides the assigned team an 11th practice squad member who is ineligible to be activated during the season.

Players will train alongside NFL veterans and draft hopefuls in Florida.

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