American Soccer Loves European Naming Conventions

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The explosion in popularity of soccer in the United States has brought about the introduction of many terms that weren't common just a few years ago. And God help me, but it drives me nuts (a little exaggeration). Nonetheless, as these words hit the keyboard you can already hear the screams of "you’re not cool, you’re an old man." So depressing, but it just bugs me a little – it just does. Seeing this evolution brings about a battle between cool me and my inner old man who doesn’t like change!

Broadly speaking, the old man puts these terms into three categories – team names (the most despicable of all), usurping rivalry terms, and everything else.

Ok, right off the top of my head is the use of labels like "United" or even the now inescapable "FC" tacked on the end of all names. United has been converted to American use without applying the accompanying context that gives it meaning. Traditionally, teams started using the term United to indicate the club was a merger of two existing clubs. Now we have teams like Atlanta United FC coming into the tier one league in the United States – but what the hell was united? Gosh darn it, words have meaning! This is not to single out this team, it is not the only one, just the most recent.

Also, how about the suffix "FC" at the end of these teams? What does that even mean? Firstly, we already have a word describing the sport "soccer" that we have used in this country for like at least a century. We already have something called football – and it is pretty humorous hearing people in interviews going back and forth between soccer and this other word – football. And how about futbol? What? One day there will be a post on the origin of the word soccer and why it works. How depressing, the old man voice is strong right now. Fine, use the suffix – but can we at least use "SC" for the word "soccer" or maybe even "sport" - as in sports club?

Ok, but here’s the most egregious European nomenclature being used here – Real Salt Lake City. What? Are you kidding right now? This comes from Spain and it has a specific meaning. The addition of the word "Real," "royal" in Spanish, means that the club has received the royal patronage of the Spanish King. This is so insanely not a concept recognized in the United States that who the heck even knows what it means for a club to receive royal patronage? When did the King of Spain visit Salt Lake City and bestow his patronage on a soccer team? This sounds like a great story – somebody go to Wikipedia and fill us in immediately. Or do we have a King here we don’t know about? Unbelievable. This makes even less sense than the Utah Jazz. Old man blood is kicking into overdrive right now and it is boiling.

Can’t go on much longer, will try to keep the rivalries talk short since blood has been leaving my fingers and going to my head from the mere mention of Real SLC. Argh. But the other thing that is difficult to stomach is the use of derby and "classico" when marketing some games. Won’t go into it too much since most of the culprits are in MLS and this is a Cosmos' fans website, but the Cali-Classico may be the most egregious culprit of all time. Ok, we get it, you’re trying to market the game by alluding to the actual "Classico" played by arguably the two largest clubs in the world – Real Madrid (there’s that word again) and FC Barcelona. In what world does a match between LA Galaxy and San Jose Quakes evoke thoughts of Real Madrid and Barcelona? Not trying to knock either team here, just the marketing. How about the Cali Cup or something? You know, like something that actually makes sense.

Let’s see, what else is there? Oh, yes, things like pitch instead of field, and spikes instead cleats (there isn’t a difference is there?), and even saying nil instead of zero when mentioning scores. This is just getting worse and worse, the old man in this post cannot be contained. Can’t say much about these new constructs except that we already have words/expressions for these things that we have been using for decades. Old man here wants to know, why can’t we just call it a darn field like we always did – is a soccer pitch something different than a soccer field? Is it?

Ok, some of these things are merely marketing tools to gain the attention of existing soccer fans by referencing existing terms that they would be familiar with. Is it working? The continued use of these terms seems to suggest that it is working and bringing these teams the attention they crave. But, change just makes an inner old man crazy.

Wait, there's one exception - hearing people calling soccer "footy" is great. This is the only exception because it is super cool – and you know why it is super cool? Because it is American! Nobody else calls it footy except us and that is awesome! (If this comes from England or any of those other savage places then strike this last statement.)

Thanks for reading, would appreciate any comments about the inner old man’s view of foreign nomenclature in the US soccer landscape. Thank you!

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