Tonight is the big game as Athletic Bilbao take on Atlético Madrid in the final of the Europa league. I’ve been watching Athletic through this tournament and like many aficionados of football have been impressed by the passion of this team from the Basque country. But it is a question of spelling that intrigued me more than anything. This is what I found out from a quick glance at Wikipedia
Football was introduced to Bilbao by two distinct groups of players, both with British connections; British steel and shipyard workers and Basque students returning from schools in Britain. In the late 19th century Bilbao was a leading port of an important industrial area with iron mines and shipyards nearby. It was the driving force of the Spanish economy and as a result attracted many migrant workers. Among them were miners from the north-east of England, and shipyard workers from Southampton, Portsmouth and Sunderland. The British workers brought with them (as to so many other parts of the world) the game of football. In the early 1890s these workers came together and formed Bilbao Football Club. Meanwhile, sons of the Basque educated classes had made the opposite journey and went to Britain to complete their studies in civil engineering and commerce. While in the United Kingdom these students developed an interest in football and on their return to Bilbao they began to arrange games with British workers. In 1898 students belonging to the Gymnasium Zamacois founded the Athletic Club, using the English spelling.
So much history in the spelling of a word, and identity too.