With Inter Milan preparing to face Manchester City in their first Champions League final since 2010, now seems a pertinent time to address a common query relating to the Italian side — specifically the origins of their club name.
The club, one of the most decorated in Italy, have won a whole host of trophies including 19 Serie A titles and three European Cups. The first two continental title triumphs were won back-to-back as Helenio Herrera’s “Grande Inter” side were crowned European champions in 1964 and 1965. Their third was won in the Champions League era in 2010, as Jose Mourinho’s side became the first Italian club to win a treble of domestic league, domestic cup and the European Cup.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
As you may be aware, “Inter Milan” are only really known as such in the English-speaking world. Indeed, the club’s full registered name is “Football Club Internazionale Milano,” or just “Internazionale” for short.
That name is often shortened further to just “Inter” in their native country. In fact, the club’s own official website is “inter.it” and their various social media accounts are all “@inter.” However, they are regularly known — colloquially and somewhat erroneously — as “Inter Milan” by the majority of football fans outside of Italy, although they are also sometimes referred to as “Inter de Milan” in Spain and “Inter de Milao” in Brazil.
The club are still referred to by UEFA as “FC Internazionale Milano” for official purposes such as during Champions League draws, just as they refer to this season’s other finalists by their full name of “Manchester City FC.”
The “Football Club Internazionale Milano” name dates back to the club’s initial formation in the early 1900s when a group of players broke away from the already established AC Milan sport club to form their own. Seeking to create a club more welcoming of both Italian and foreign players, the founding members decided to adopt a name that reflected their open-door policy.
AC Milan were founded as a football and cricket club by English textile worker and amateur football player Herbert Kilpin in 1899. The club were highly successful and won a number of early national league championships. However, by 1907 opposing factions on the board were arguing over the club’s policy of only signing and fielding Italian players.
After the argument reached an impasse, a splinter group comprised of mostly Italian and Swiss players left AC Milan in order to establish their own local football club and hence “Internazionale Milano” (which literally translates as “International Milan”) were born, sparking one of the most intense and entrenched sporting rivalries in world football.
Italian futurist artist Giorgio Muggiani, one of Inter’s founding fathers, designed and hand-painted the first Inter badge when the club was formed. The familiar blue, black and gold circular shield with the letters “FCIM” was worn for the majority of their 115-year existence.
However, it was formally replaced at the start of the 2021-22 season with a streamlined variation of Muggiani’s original. The letters “FC” were dropped from the roundel design to allow the “IM” to feature more prominently.
Since 1908, Internazionale have been predominantly known as “Inter” in Italy while the rest of their international audience tend to opt for “Inter Milan” — which, while widely used and recognised around the world, represents a jarring misnomer to the Italian ear.
Similar examples include “Sporting Clube de Portugal” (often shortened to “Sporting CP,”) who are almost solely known as “Sporting” in Portugal but “Sporting Lisbon” almost everywhere beyond. It’s fair to say that their Spanish counterparts “Athletic Club,” who are chiefly known as “Athletic Bilbao” outside of Spain, would sympathise.
Inter themselves haven’t exactly helped to clarify any lingering confusion in recent years after using the initials “IM” as part of their global branding and marketing identity. But what remains certain is that you are unlikely to ever hear a regular Italian football fan refer to the club as anything other than plain old “Inter.”