I have just watched an exciting match between two of England’s best soccer teams, Arsenal and Manchester City. But if someone unfamiliar with the game were to tune in and try to determine what was going on by looking on the fronts of the players’ jerseys, they might think that it was a contest between teams representing the two competing airlines of the United Arab Emirates, Emirates (Arsenal) and Etihad (Man City). It is not that either team is owned by the respective airline. But it may surprise Americans to learn that in Europe corporate influence on professional sports is far more extensive than in the US and goes well beyond stadium naming rights. We don’t, after all, see the San Francisco 49ers or Giants players to show up with “Levi’s” or “AT&T” emblazoned on their uniforms.

Sometimes that stadium’s name and the company advertised on the jersey are different. Bayern Munich’s stadium, for example, is named for Allianz (the insurance giant), while their jerseys feature T-Mobile. In other cases the stadium keeps its old sponsor-free name, but the jerseys still act as billboards: Emirates (again) for Real Madrid, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain; Qatar Airways for Barcelona: Jeep for Juventus; Chevrolet for Manchester United; and so on.

Several professional clubs in Europe actually are or were owned by local companies, and carry their names: Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), Philips Eindhoven (Holland). The reason that Volkswagen’s team, VfL Wolfsburg, doesn’t carry the company’s name is that it doesn’t seem necessary: everybody knows what Wolfsburg stands for.

And then, of course there are the leagues themselves. Spain’s major league, commonly called La Liga, is officially Liga BBVA, named for Spain’s second-largest bank. And in England the Premier League is officially the Barclays Premier League, similarly named for the country’s second-largest bank.

Outside of England, however, we call it the English Premier League, or EPL. To get information about it on Yahoo or Google, you can enter either EPL or BPL. And as long as EPL works, I choose to forget about BPL.

One Response to “BPL?”

  1. Champions… | Coby Lubliner's Blog Says:

    […] division of English soccer, because the first division, the English Premier League (alslo known as Barclays Premier League) is a separate organization from the Football League. And the playoff is a tournament, among the […]

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