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The Name Game In South America

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool are not just teams in England's Premiership - clubs of the same name also play in South America. Luke Gosset explains why British sides provided the inspiration for many sides in another continent.
Before the ex-Tottenham midfielder Ossie Ardiles resigned as coach of Argentinian side Racing Avellaneda last May, he upset the local press by mispronouncing the team name of his opponents Arsenal Fútbol Club de Sarandí.
Ardiles put the stress on the first 'a' of Arsenal, using the English rather than Argentinian Spanish intonation. The error shows that while teams like Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool conjure up images of the Premiership for Ardiles, that is not the case for other fans in South America. The reason, though, has its roots in the British game.
Argentina's Arsenal are so called because in 1957 a group of ten football officials - one of whom was Julio Grondona, the current president of the Argentinian Football Federation (AFA) and a FIFA vice-president - were looking for a name for the club they were about to form. At the time, Arsenal were one of England's best teams and had established a worldwide reputation by consistently finishing in the top ten of the old Division One during the 1950s. They even won the championship in 1953.
The Argentinian version of Arsenal achieved promotion to the top division for the first time in their history before the start of the 2003 season, going on to finish seventh in a 20-team league in both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments.
Their current manager Jorge Burruchaga is a club legend and scored the winner in Argentina's 3-2 defeat of Germany in the 1986 World Cup final. His team is no obscure provincial outfit, but a side with whom all football supporters in the country are familiar.
The Arsenal example has been copied many times over throughout the continent, proving how successful a British export football has been. The naming of various South American clubs bears testimony to the extent to which non-British cultures have absorbed the game.
In Chile, Anglophiles formed Everton in 1909. According to local legend, the name was chosen after one founder member produced a toffee from his pocket called the Everton Mint.
But there were well-established trade routes between the Pacific port of Valparaiso and the coal producing port of Liverpool and that year an Everton side had impressed on a tour of South America. It is more plausible that Everton was sufficiently familiar to the local community for the club to adopt its name, colours and badge.
Santiago Wanderers and Rangers are other Chilean teams which owe their names to the impact of the Brits, who flocked to South America at the start of the 20th century to lay railway tracks and played football to pass their time.
The scenario is similar with Uruguay's Liverpool, which was founded in 1908 when pupils from a college in the capital of Montevideo put together a side to take on other school teams. They needed a name and simply looked at the map during a geography lesson, opting for Liverpool because at the time the Mersey port was synonymous with wealth and power.


Luke Gosset, March 2004


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