Why are soccer teams called real?

You may have noticed some soccer teams in both the United States and internationally often have “real” in front of their team name. If you’re curious as to why so many teams are called real and what it means, we’ve got all the answers for you.

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“Real” is a Spanish title that directly translates to “Royal” in English, and it’s been used in front of soccer team names that have reached royal status from a Spanish monarch. There is a United States soccer team, however, that uses the title for flourish rather than actual royal status.

But why are some of these teams actually royal while others are not? Continue reading to find out more about the true meaning behind this title and why some teams are given the title while others simply adopt it.

What does “real” mean in soccer teams?

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“Real” is a title given to primarily Spanish soccer teams that have received “royal” status, because “real” is a Spanish title that literally translates to “royal” in English. While it is more common in Spain for soccer teams to have this title, there are soccer teams across the globe that have this name, but they generally get such a title when they play a successful game or a few in Spain.

One of the most famous soccer team that has such a title is Real Madrid, which is a Spanish team from Spain’s capital, Madrid. This team has won over 120 trophies over the years, and is one of the most well-known soccer teams on the globe.

How soccer teams get the royal title

Soccer teams get their royal title, “Real” when they are recognized and given the title by the Spanish Monarch. Soccer, which is referred to as football in Europe, is such a big deal in Spain that the king himself is a fan and gives some of his favorite team’s royal titles because of how well they play. (Source)

These teams can either be teams that started in Spain or international teams that played in Spain and received recognition and support from the monarch. If they do receive this recognition, it’s more of a reverence thing to adopt the “real” title (in addition to being viewed as higher status), but teams are not expected to automatically add “real” to their team name. Teams that have been granted “real” status by Spanish monarchs will also get a royal crown on their badge.

What are some soccer teams of real status?

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There are several soccer teams that have “real” in their name, most of which are in Spain and got their name from support of the Spanish monarch, and one team being located in the United States. This American team did not receive support from the monarch but rather used the name for aesthetic purposes. The soccer teams that have “real” in their team name, whether it is authentic or not, include:

  • Real Madrid
    • Started in 1902 and was previously known as Madrid Football Club, in 1920 the team was granted the Real title by King Alfonso XIII
  • Real Murcia
    • Founded in 1919 and was previously known by several names; Levante Foot-ball Club, Foot Ball Club de Murcia, and Murcia Football Club). In 1923 to 1924, the team was named Real Murcia by King Alfonso XIII
  • Real Club Celta de Vigo
    • Granted royal status by King Alfonso XIII
  • Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña
    • King Alfonso XIII granted the team its “Real” denomination in 1907
  • Real Zaragoza
  • Real Club Deportivo Español
    • Granted royal patronage by King Alfonzo XIII in 1912
  • Real Betis
    • Founded in 1907, the team received patronage in 1914 by King Alfonso XIII
  • Real Oviedo
  • Real Racing Club de Santander
  • Real Sociedad
    • Started in 1909 and was previously known as the San Sebastian Football Club and Club Ciclista de San Sebastian; they received successful status when they played under the name Sociedad de Futbol in 1909, when they received patronage from King Alfonso XIII, which granted the name Real Sociedad de Futbol. They are more commonly known as Real Sociedad
  • Real Sporting de Gijón
    • Originally known as Sporting Gijonés, the team received royal patronage from King Alfonso XIII in 1912
  • Real Valladolid Club de Fútbol
  • Real Salt Lake

The Real Salt Lake team name controversy

Real Salt Lake is a soccer team based in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. They are one of a few Major League Soccer teams in the United States that have “Real” adorned to their team name. Another popular team that is adorned with Real is the Real Monarchs, which is owned by Real Salt Lake. Because Real Salt Lake was not granted royal patronage by the Spanish monarch, they received a lot of controversy for it.

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When the name was chosen, it was more for simplicity and while it was inspired by Spanish-style soccer team names, it neglected the fact that the title’s purpose was to prove their status of receiving support from the monarch, which Real Salt Lake did not receive.

It has also been said that they chose the name in hopes of gaining a partnership with Real Madrid. When the team started playing under the name, many accused the team of being named with contrivance, with locals suggesting a large array of alternative names that wouldn’t appropriate the Spanish soccer culture.

Despite pushback, the team has remained under the name Real Salt Lake and has been very successful in the soccer world.

Other soccer team name titles

Some other soccer team titles, aside from Real, include Union, United, and FC. Oftentimes, a soccer team will have two of these titles in their name. Union is a word to describe a familial bond, and many teams feel as if they and all their teammates are a family.

There are many teams in the United States that use this title in their team name, in fact, a majority of teams adorned with Union come from the United States or North America. (Source)

The title “United” means that the team is made up of what once were two separate teams or clubs that had merged at some point. The other common team name titles are FC, which simply stands for Football Club. This is more commonly used in Europe, because in the United States, Association Football is referred to more commonly as soccer, given that American Football is a completely different sport from soccer or Association Football.

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