The Complete Guide to World Cup Team Nicknames [Posters]

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ESPN odered Brazilian artist Cristiano Siqueria to create posters for all 32 teams participating in the World Cup 2014 Brazil. They display each team’s unique nickname, so impress your friends by saying “Team Melli” instead of “Iran.”

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The nicknames range from the simple, such as Argentina’s “La Albiceleste,” which means “The White and Sky Blue,” to more elaborate ones, such as Italy’s “Azzurri,” which means “the blues,”. All of the names provide interesting bits of trivia about their respective countries.
Check out Cristiano’s posters and a brief background on the teams nicknames, below:

Algeria, “Les Fennecs”

IMAGE: ESPN/CRISTIANO SIQUEIRA

In honor of the national animal of Algeria, the national team is “Les Fennecs,” the small, nocturnal foxes native to North Africa.

Argentina, “La Albiceleste”

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As beautiful as it is eloquent, “La Albiceleste” means “The White and Sky Blue,” and refers to Argentina’s famous striped uniforms.

Australia, “The Socceroos”

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This is probably the kookiest nickname: Australia’s national team combines “soccer” and “kangaroos.” Now, you’ve got yourself the Australian squad.

Belgium, “The Red Devils”

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The Belgians are known affectionately in all three of the country’s spoken languages — Dutch, French and German — as “The Red Devils.” The name was coined when a journalist called the Belgian squad “The Red Devils” after three “devilish” wins in 1906, just two years after forming.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Zmajevi”

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Like Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina owes its nickname to a commentator who called the players “zmajevi” or “dragons” in 2010, and the name stuck.

Brazil, “Seleção”

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“The Selection” is Brazil’s nickname because it’s what Brazilians call every soccer team: a “seleção. But only the national team is “the “Seleção.” Brazil is also known as “Canarihno” (“Little Canary”) due to the team’s bright yellow uniforms.

Cameroon, “The Indomitable Lions”

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Cameroon’s nickname is actually a nod to the country’s lion-preservation efforts. In the wild and on the pitch, the Cameroon lions or “Lions” are “indomitable.”

Chile, “La Roja”

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The Chileans prefer simplicity, earning their nickname from the team’s notable red uniforms.

Colombia, “Los Cafeteros”

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“Los Cafeteros” loosely translates to “one who makes or drinks coffee,” and Colombians do both. The national team is nicknamed after one of Colombia’s biggest exports: coffee.

Costa Rica, “Los Ticos”

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“Los Ticos” is the shortened, more conversational name for “Costarrincenses” or “native Costa Ricans.”

Croatia, “Vatreni”

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“Vatreni” means “The Blazers” in Croatian, a nod to both the passion of the players on the pitch and the fans in the stands. Lately, Croatia is also known as “Bilic’s Boys,” a reference to the team’s head coach, Slaven Bilic.

Ecuador, “La Tricolor”

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“La Tricolor” refers to the three colors of the Ecuadorian flag: yellow, blue and red.

England, “The Three Lions”

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England’s namesake refers to the country’s rich history, going back to Richard the Lionheart, the King of England from 1189 to 1199. The three lions that appear on the national team’s crest also appear on the Royal Arms of England.

France, “Les Bleus”

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The boys in “bleu” got their nickname because the color dominates the French team’s uniforms. It’s even a nickname for most teams across French sports.

Germany, “Die Mannschaft”

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Call it German efficiency: “Die Mannschaft” means “The Team” in German. Simple, practical and formidable when spoken.

Ghana, “The Black Stars”

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A reference to the sole black star on Ghana’s national flag, the players of the national team are stars to their fans.

Greece, “Ethniki”

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“Ethniki” or “national” is Greece’s nickname. The Greek team is also known as “Piratiko,” after a Greek radio broadcaster who christened the team with the name during the opening ceremony of UEFA Euro 2004.

Honduras, “Los Catrachos”

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“Los Catrachos” is the name for native Hondurans, derived from General Florencio Xatruch who fought an American insurrectionist’s attempts to reintroduce slavery. Xatruch’s men were called “xatruches,” which then became “catruches,” and so on.

Iran, “Team Melli”

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Like other teams in the World Cup, “Team Melli” simply means “National Team.”

Italy, “Azzurri”

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Like France’s team, “Azzurri” means “the blues.” Though not part of the national flag colors, blue was the color of House Savoy which unified Italy in 1861.

Ivory Coast, “Les Elephants”

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Ivory Coast; ivory tusks. The national team is named “Les Elephants” due to their part in the 19th century ivory trade.

Japan, “Samurai Blue”

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Adorned in “blue” uniforms, the Japanese squad honors the country’s historical warriors, and become “samurais” on the pitch.

Mexico, “El Tri”

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Every national team’s nickname honors its country, but Mexico’s nickname “El Tri” conjures up intense national pride. A shortened “El Tricolor,” Mexico’s nickname refers to the three colors — red, white and green — of the Mexican flag.

Netherlands, “Oranje”

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Named for the team’s famous orange kits, the color is actually nowhere to be found on the Netherlands’ flag. Instead it refers to the color of the old Dutch royal family: House of Orange-Nassau. The team’s invention of a precise method of passing to maintain ball control — Total Football — also earned the Dutch team the nickname and Kubrickian homage “Clockwork Orange.”

Nigeria, “The Super Eagles”

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Nigeria’s nickname is rooted in classic one-upmanship. The national team adopted the nickname “The Super Eagles” after losing to Cameroon’s “The Indomitable Lions” in the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Portugal, “Seleção das Quinas”

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Portugal’s nickname, “The Selection of the Shields,” refers to the five shields (the “quinas”) and the five dots within each shield (the bezants) on the country’s flag.

Russia, “Sbornaya”

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Short on originality, but strong and powerful in pronunciation, Russia’s “Sbornaya” means “National Team” in Russian.

South Korea, “Taegeuk Warriors”

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The “taegeuk” refers to the symbol on South Korea’s national flag, which represents a spiritual balance, similar to China’s yin and yang symbol. Also known as “The Reds” due to the team’s red uniforms, fans have called themselves the “Red Devils” since 1995.

Spain, “La Furia Roja”

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“The Red Fury,” Spain’s nickname, comes from two sources. “La Roja,” like other team nicknames, comes from the color of the team’s uniforms, while “La Furia” describes its “direct, aggressive, spirited style” of play in the 1920s — a “fury” on the pitch.

Switzerland, “La Nati”

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The Swiss team kept its nickname short and to the point. “La Nati,” means “The National Team” in French. Due to the many languages used in Switzerland, the team is also known as “Schweizer Nati” in German and “Squadra Nazionale” in Italian, but they ultimately all mean the same thing.

Uruguay, “La Celeste”

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Not quite Argentina’s “La Albiceleste,” but equally as beautiful when spoken, Uruguay’s “La Celeste” also refers to the team’s sky-blue uniforms.

U.S.A., “The Yanks”

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Unlike other countries competing in the World Cup, the U.S. doesn’t have an official nickname. In the past, the team has been called “The Yanks,” but the jury’s still out on it being the official name of the U.S. Men’s National Team. Other nicknames include “The Stars and Stripes” or just “Team USA.”


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