The Copa América is underway, with Brazil odds-on favourites to win their sixth title. To celebrate this, we’re going to look at 9 South American teams with unexpected names. Some have specific meanings in their country and others are English names that look peculiar in a football setting.
Based in: Huancayo, Peru
One of the most notorious names has nothing to do with… you know. The “Wanka” name comes from the Wanka or Huanca people who live in Peru. They’ve had four names in their history but none as infamous as Deportivo Wanka. The club name’s notoriety didn’t escape one of its spokesmen who told The Sun, “It is very strange. Everyone in Britain seems to think we have a funny name.”
Based in: La Paz, Bolivia
Its full name is Club The Strongest and the club was originally called “The Strong Football Club”, followed by “The Strongest Football Club”. There’s clearly a theme here. In 1930, it lived up to its self-proclaimed prowess when it became the first and, as yet, only Bolivian team to win a League title without conceding a goal.
Based in: Rancagua, Chile
If you think that name sounds Irish… that’s because it is. The Chilean club was named after the Bernardo O’Higgins, the independence leader who freed Chile from Spanish rule in the 19th century. The surname came from the Irish noble family who migrated to Spain centuries before. Interestingly, they are affiliated with Chelsea and OGC Nice.
Arsenal de Sarandí
Based in: Sarandí, Argentina
The English club Arsenal F.C. was named after the Royal Arsenal in London where the British armed forces carried out military tests. Coincidentally, Arsenal de Sarandí did the same but for Argentina’s military arsenal. Unlike their English namesakes, they don’t wear red and have never played the Gunners. Someone needs to make that happen.
Based in: Montevideo, Uruguay
Not even a slight variation, just a straight copy. But they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and this is a fine example. The club took Liverpool’s name due to similar cultural links between Montevideo and Liverpool. In 2006, they made their away kit all red in honour of the Reds.
Club Always Ready
Based in: El Alto, Bolivia
There’s not much information on why Club Always Ready is called Always Ready. Maybe their match preparation is perfect? Either way, they wear a kit similar to River Plate’s; white with a red sash. They made one appearance in Copa Libertadores in 1968 but didn’t make it out of the first round.
Based in: Manta, Ecuador
Remember the Green Cross Code Man? He was played by David Prowse, better known for his role as Darth Vader (the guy in the suit, not the voice) in the second Star Wars trilogy. But he had no part to play in the name of this Ecuadorian club.
Based in: Callao, Peru
You may be familiar with two football clubs in Switzerland called Young Boys and Old Boys. The former played Manchester United in the Champions League in 2018/19 while the latter now play in the fifth tier of the Swiss football league. But Sport Boys are based in Peru and, despite the name, only play one sport while the Swiss Boys are sporting clubs. They were the first Peruvian football club to feature cheerleaders, wear pink, and one of their nicknames is La Nube Rosada, which translates as The Pink Cloud.
Chaco For Ever
Based in: Resistencia, Argentina
The final team in the list is Chaco For Ever. The club was founded in 1913 and, like many South American teams in the early 20th century, their formation had an English influence in name and kits. It’s thought that Chaco For Ever’s founder wanted a name that would guarantee prosperity and chose “For Ever” as its prefix (Chaco is the province where they play).