More Than Just a Name: What Does FC Stand For in Soccer?

  • FC means ‘Football Club’ and the phrase was used to separate soccer teams and general sports clubs in the 19th century.
  • There are many variations of ‘Football Club’ in world soccer, such as AC, United and SSC.
  • FC and alternative phrases in team names are part of a club’s unique identity and history.

   Your Guide

Alex Waite   Alex Waite

FC in soccer means Football Club.

Thousands of teams worldwide, whether professional or amateur, will have the phrase ‘Football Club’, abbreviated to FC, after or before their team name. 

What does FC stand for in Soccer?

As an enthusiastic young soccer fan in the UK, I would follow the live scores on a Saturday afternoon on the television or listen to matches on the radio.

Apart from being COMPLETELY ENGROSSED in the on-field action, I was also transfixed by the different team names.

From the famous, such as Liverpool FC, to the lesser-known, Queen of the South, I was always interested in soccer team names and where they originated.

After asking my soccer-mad dad what FC stood for, a quick explanation ingrained the term in the soccer section of my mind.

However, as I got older and watched more international soccer and UEFA competitions, there were more team names to get my head around.

The likes of:

  • AC Milan,
  • SSC Napoli,
  • AS Roma from the Italian Serie A
  • Atlético Madrid
  • Real Madrid from the Spanish La Liga: was one of the clubs that regularly appeared on the soccer highlight reels. 

I then understood that FC may be one of the most common phrases in a football team’s name, but there are actually so many variations in world soccer to unpick.

In this article, we look at the origins of FC and its relevance today.

We also unpick some of the alternative team names to FC and their relevance to individual soccer clubs. 


The origins of FC in soccer come from the UK.

Originally, soccer clubs in the UK formed when groups of people from factories, businesses and even religious establishments banded together to form teams in the mid-19th century. 

To help distinguish themselves as specific teams that exclusively played soccer rather than general sports clubs, they would place FC after the name. Some of the earliest examples of the use of FC in the UK include:

  • Sheffield FC (1857)
  • Wanderers FC (1859)
  • Hallam FC (1860)
  • Crystal Palace FC (1861)
  • Notts County FC (1862)

Expansion of FC and Alternative Phrases

The professionalization of soccer in the UK soon expanded to continental Europe and even South America in the later 19th century.

Tradesmen, religious groups and overseas businessmen took their love of soccer with them and set up many teams in other continents during the industrial era, as Charlotte Johnson explained for the Manchester Historian.

This is where the term expanded to incorporate DIFFERENT VARIATIONS.

Many countries now have unique alternatives to FC in their team names.

For me, this caused confusion when trying to learn more about soccer clubs from around the world, but the reasons behind unique additions are usually a reflection of different languages or cultures that express how soccer is more than what happens on the field.

For example, many German team names, such as Hannover 1896 and FC Schalke 1904, set themselves apart by including the year in which they were founded.

Italian teams have AC or SSC in their name, including AC Milan and SSC Napoli.

These are abbreviations for Associazione di Calcio (Association Football) or Società Sportiva Calcio (Soccer Sports Society). 

While many teams around the world will have FC or an alternative, some still adopt even more unusual names in place of Football Club.

Football news website Planet Football ranked the strangest football names from around the world, with teams like Cape Coast Mysterious Ebusua Dwarfs and Club Always Ready, making the list. 

Team Names: A Clubs Identity

I used to think the use of FC after a team name was unnecessary and I sometimes questioned the need for the phrase.

After all, most soccer fans would be aware they were watching or supporting a team play the game.

Also, in the UK, fans rarely refer to the FC part of their favorite team’s name.

But, I grew up supporting and following my own team, Crystal Palace FC.

The more I went to matches, the more I suffered and experienced joy with this club and I also understood that the team name is a huge part of its culture, history and identity.

No football team name is the same, and that includes the FC phrase at the beginning or end of a name. 

Similarly, any fan of AC Milan would say that they are NOT SIMPLY Milan.

They are their own team in the city, with the AC, which stands for Associazione di Calcio a key part of their culture and history.

AC Milan is one of the most recognized soccer teams in the world and the AC part of their name is what sets them apart as a HEAVYWEIGHT IN SOCCER.

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