Spanish journalists nicknamed new Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao Garcia the “guerrillero del gol” (goal guerrilla), drawing criticism and indignation from fans.
Colombian Falcao Garcia earned the nickname after scoring five goals in his first three games with Atletico.
In an interview with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Victor Rivera, a Spanish sports journalist who used the new name, defended his decision and explained that the name was not created with Falcao Garcia’s nationality in mind.
Colombia has been entrenched in an armed conflict with various guerrilla groups for nearly a half century. Guerrillas are responsible for thousands of attacks on police, armed forces, and civilians.
Rivera explained that sports journalists often use battle-related names to describe athletes.
“I used [the name] to describe the battling and warlike character of the player, but I never thought about his nationality. Players who are dirty we refer to as snipers,” said Rivera.
Many social network users have attacked and defended the “guerrilla” nickname. Some explained that the word does not hold the same connotation in Spain. Others questioned Spanish journalists’ ability to come up with a name that doesn’t offend an entire country.
For now, it seems that Falcao Garcia’s nickname “El Tigre” (The Tiger) will have to suffice.