What does the word 'Real' mean in football teams such as Real Madrid?
The word 'Real' means 'Royal' in Spanish, but it also means 'Kingly'.
Most of these clubs that prefix their name with "Real" enjoy the patronage of the Spanish royal family. The title, along with the royal crown in the emblems, was first given by the King Alfonso XIII in 1920 to several Spanish football clubs:
- Real Madrid
- Real Betis
- Real Mallorca
- Real Murcia
- Real Sociedad
- Real Sporting de Gijón
- Real Unión de Irún
- Real Valladolid
- Real Zaragoza
- RCD Espanyol (The R stands for Reial)
The tradition began in 1902 when clubs suggested a football tournament to honour the coronation of King Alfonso XIII. The tournament was then christened Copa Del Rey meaning the King's Cup. It's full name is Campeonato de España - Copa de Su Majestad el Rey de Fútbol (Championship of Spain - His Majesty the King's Football Cup).
King Alfonso XIII subsequently became the patron of many Spanish football clubs, granting them permission to use "Real" in their names.