“Players want surnames on their shirts”

The players have spoken: surnames it should be.

The players have spoken: surnames it should be. Photo: Foto Olimpik

Players’ wishes should be respected and surnames used on their football shirts, is the recommendation of the Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ).

In the latest twist to the ongoing first name/patronymic row in Iceland, President of KSÍ Geir Þor­steins­son has declared he intends to come down on the side of the players themselves, who are “adamant” that their football shirts should display their ‘surnames’ rather than their first names.

The vast majority of Icelandic ‘surnames’ are not in fact surnames in the traditional sense, but patronyms – names based on the filial relationship with a male parent.

For instance, the name of Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson – who currently plays for Swansea – mean literally ‘Gylfi Þór, son of Sigurður’. Any sisters of Gylfi Þór would bear the patronym ‘Sigurðardóttir’, i.e. ‘daughter of Sigurður’.

Þorsteinsson – or should that be Geir? – received a petition yesterday signed by 995 people urging the Icelandic tradition of using first names to be followed. The Icelandic Language Committee has also weighed in on the debate reminding KSÍ that Icelandic is the official language of Iceland both at home and abroad.

It appears, however, that these pleas will not hold sway.

“Players are known by their ‘surnames’ abroad and see them as a sort of trademark,” explains Þorsteinsson. “They also see playing in the national team as a window for their future careers and their exposure as football players. They are adamant that they want their surnames on their shirts.”

“The proposal [to change the shirts to feature first names instead] will be discussed, but my recommendation will be to respect the wishes of the players themselves, as has always been done.”

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