In soccer, FC is an acronym that stands for Football Club. That term might confuse soccer fans in the United States who think of Association Football as Major League Soccer. What becomes even more confusing is that some teams in MLS use SC instead of FC.
So when did FC become a thing, what does it even mean, and what is SC in Football Association? Here is the complete breakdown of what FC means in soccer and more!
A Brief History
In England in the late 1800s, groups of people on an Association Football team would characterize themselves as a football club. To make it easier to explain where they were, they would add FC to their name. For example, if your group were in Liverpool, you would be Liverpool FC for Association Football.
Since this became an easy acronym, more groups began adapting FC when referring to their team. The phrase even went from England to Spanish-speaking counties in the 1800s. For example, Club de Futbol is the Spanish equivalent to Football Club.
What Does FC and SC Mean in Soccer?
FC stands for Football Club, while SC stands for Soccer Club and Sporting Club. Both represent professional soccer teams, but the SC is more for casual soccer fans in the United States. In the United States, fans think of Association Football as soccer, not Football.
In 1996, the MLS (Major League Soccer) had their first season in the United States. Since 1996, they have grown the sport with more teams and soccer players representing new cities. The MLS grows in interest in the United States, which means more interest in association football and soccer.
Why Don’t They Call all SC Teams FC in the United States of America?
Since their first season in 1996, MLS has had an uphill battle establishing the game of soccer (Football) in America. Soccer will always be challenging to brand with sports like MLB, NBA, NHL, and the NFL (American Football) in the United States, but the interest in the sport is growing. However, since many soccer teams use an MLB or NFL stadium as their home, it sometimes is difficult to be seen as anything more than the second-team at a venue.
Nevertheless, some teams incorporate FC into their name to promote Football, like New York City FC. The term FC originates in the late 1800s in England, so the MLS allows teams to use that phrase to continue the tradition. On the other hand, the league is Major League Soccer in the United States, which most casual fans know as the sport, so some teams choose SC in their name to make that clear.
FC in Major League Soccer
As of January 2022, there are 28 MLS teams. The 28 teams in the MLS soccer league are in groups of 14 in the Eastern and Western conferences. While “soccer” is mainly used in the United States, most teams use the FC phrase in their name to promote Association Football.
Here is the list of all 28 Major League Soccer Teams in alphabetical order.
- Atlanta United FC
- Austin FC
- CF Montreal
- Charlotte FC
- Chicago Fire FC
- Colorado Rapids
- Columbus Crew FC
- DC. United
- FC Dallas
- FC Cincinnati
- Houston Dynamo FC
- Inter Miami CF
- LA Galaxy
- Los Angeles FC
- Minnesota United FC
- Nashville SC
- New England Revolution
- New York Red Bulls FC
- NYC FC
- Orlando City SC
- Philadelphia Union
- Portland Timbers
- Real Salt Lake
- San Jose Earthquakes
- Seattle Sounders FC
- Sporting Kansas City
- Toronto FC
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC
FC in the English Premier League
The top of the English Football League is the Premier League, containing 20 clubs. Some of the big and most notable names in the EPL include Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, FC Bayern Munich, and Swansea. You can add FC at the end of some of these names, but most fans call them by their city name.
Check out the complete list of 20 clubs in the English Premier League to learn more.
What Does CF Mean in Soccer?
CF is Spanish for Club de Fútbol in the La Liga league. Club de Fútbol means football club when you translate it into Spanish. Some of the most popular teams in the La Liga League include Real Madrid CF, Getafe CF, and Villarreal CF. However, FC Barcelona is in the league, but you can read more about their name change with this link.
What about Milan?
Associazione Calcio Milan is the same as AC Milan and Milan. Like how fans and players don’t say FC or SC when referring to their soccer team’s city, most fans refer to AC Milan as Milan. The AC part of their name stands for Football Association, which is the long way of saying Football.
Do Most Soccer Fans Refer to their Team by the City?
Some FIFA fans drop the FC or SC when referring to their team. For example, if you are a fan of Chelsea Football Club, you might refer to them as Chelsea. Likewise, the same goes with places like FC Barcelona, where fans refer to it as Barcelona.
Conclusion: What Does FC Stand for in Soccer?
In summary, FC is an acronym that stands for Football Club. Since the early inception in England in the 1800s, players wanted to identify where their team played for, and FC became an easy way to do that. As the years went by, more groups internationally began adopting FC into their names to keep with this rich tradition.
As soccer interest grows in the United States, more teams use FC to represent their name. However, since the MLS stands for Major League Soccer, some teams use SC as part of their name to help with branding to casual fans. Whether you use FC or SC, it means the same thing at the end of the day.
Finally, while FC is the official name for teams, most fans and players leave that part out since it adds unnecessary words. For example, saying Arsenal Football Club as Arsenal is a mouthful, so it is acceptable to say Arsenal instead. Likewise, the same goes for Liverpool, Watford, Norwich, and others.