What’s in a name

Aug 26, 2021

Football Stories

A story on a club from Sao Paolo with Italian roots.

Palmeiras is now one of the most victorious teams of Brazil and South America. Its “immigrant” name gives us a window in the past.

In this article:


Palestra Italia team photo from 1920.

Palestra Itália team photo from 1920.


On August 26 in 1914 a Brazilian football club was founded in Sao Paulo, its name was Palestra Itália. It became one of the most popular clubs in Brazil and in the world, although with another name. Nowadays, it is known as S.E. Palmeiras. Sao Paulo at the beginning of the 20 century was a deeply Italian city, because of millions of immigrants which had left the young kingdom to look for land and a better future in the New World.

Italian in the city

The division between the various regions of Italy is reflected in the Brazilian city, where Bexiga is the Bairro (neighborhood) of the people from Calabria, Bom Retiro of the Venetians, Bras of the Neapolitans… that’s when Palestra Itália had its paper: we can easily understand by this name that the founders wanted to unify and collect fans from all Italian migrants, without any regards from the region of origin. That’s probably why even the Italian Consulate supported this club in front of the other Italian teams of Sao Paulo, each of them with a strong regional connotation. Founded when WW1 was starting, during WW2 Palestra Itália had to change its name into Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras because Brazil was entering the war on the Allies’ side, and Italy at that moment was one of the enemies, with Germany and Japan.

Thinking point

Palmeiras is now one of the most victorious teams of Brazil and South America, and probably very few people remember its “immigrant” name.

Do you think it is fair to change the name of a club because of political reasons or it should be better to preserve it, as a historical value?

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—————————       A story on a club from Sao Paolo with Italian roots.      —————————
Palmeiras is now one of the most victorious teams of Brazil and South America. Its “immigrant” name gives us a window in the past.
Article Tags:   20th century  |   cultural heritage  |   migration  |   politics

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