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back Bundesliga | 23.01.2013 23:11:00

What's in a name?

  • Nuri Sahin was delighted to rejoin his hometown club Borussia Dortmund in January 2013, but do you know what the initials in the background stand for?
  • As Stuttgart's target-man leading the attack, Vedad Ibisevic (r.) certainly lives up to VfB's original philosophy of being a 'Club for physical games'
  • Little did the Düsseldorf founding fathers know that their sighting of a horse and cart in 1895 would lead to the 'F' on Charlison Benschop's shirt more than a century later

Munich - While the Bundesliga is renowned worldwide for its fan-friendly culture, the names of certain clubs can themselves be far less accessible. So if you're struggling to differentiate an SpVgg from a BVB, fear not, for help is at hand.

bundesliga.com has trawled the history books and put together this handy guide explaining the roots of some of the more peculiar epithets in German football.

Odd prefixes

Some clubs, such as VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg, may look strange on paper but the underlying reasons are quite straightforward. Verein für Bewegungsspiele (Club for physical games) and Verein für Leibesübungen (Club for physical exercise) are too drawn out, even for German natives to say, hence the need to abbreviate.

The same goes for Turn- und Sportgemeinschaft (Gymnastics and Sports Club) at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, as well as at Verein für Rasenspiele (Club for grass sports) at VfR Aalen, and Meiderricher Sportverein (Meiderich - a district in the city of Duisburg - Sports Club) at MSV Duisburg in Bundesliga 2.

Numbers game

Germans are traditionally sticklers for accuracy and they're no different when it comes to football. As a general rule of thumb, if you see a '1.' in front of your team's name that's because they want you to know they were the first such club to be founded in their city. Similarly, any other numbers that feature (usually at the end) demonstrate the club's pride in their historical roots by flaunting the year they came into existence.

Take 1. FSV Mainz 05 as an example. The Fussball- und Sportverein (Football and Sports Club) was the first of its kind when established in 1905. So deciphering FC Schalke 04 and Borussia VfL 1900 Mönchengladbach isn't quite the impossible task it first seemed.

Downright unusual

Yet not all names have such logical roots. Untangling Düsseldorfer Turn- und Sportverein Fortuna 1895 may be a piece of cake by now, except for the 'Fortuna' bit. Far from being a reference to the goddess of luck, the appellation originated when the founding fathers spied a horse and cart delivering goods for the local bakery, called 'Fortuna'.

Elsewhere, the ore mountains surrounding the city of Aue lent their name to FC Erzgebirge Aue, while a journey on a ship whose funnel was painted blue and white and bore the name 'Hertha' was responsible not only for the Hertha BSC Berlin, but also the club colours they wear to this day. And what of SpVgg Greuther Fürth? This particular mouthful stands for the Spielvereinigung (playing union) which was formed when TSV Vestenbergsgreuth and TSV Fürth merged in 1996.

Down to earth

At Dortmund, Borussia may orginally stem from the Latin word for Prussia, but the club's founders took it from a local brewery. It forms the latter part of BVB, or Ballspiel- Verein Borussia (club for ball games) as the team is commonly referred to nowadays.

Meanwhile, players at some of the Bundesliga's biggest-hitters may be wowing spectators with their on-field attacking creativity, but the sides they represent were originally somewhat less inventive. The Eintracht in Frankfurt and Braunschweig merely means 'united', pharmaceutical giant Bayer gave its name to the side it backs in Leverkusen, while Munich's Bayern translates as 'Bavaria'.

More about: FC Bayern Munich >

More about: Borussia Dortmund >

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