Odd nicknames for football clubs abound – you have the Shrimpers at Southend, the Monkey Hangers at Hartlepool and, further on, you get like the Moody Diva at Eintracht Frankfurt. Unfortunately, however, we will no longer have the squirrels from Benin, a country in West Africa.
Fans’ dissatisfaction with the nickname “squirrel” for the team, on the grounds that the little creatures were “insignificant”, prompted the Beninese Football Federation to take firm action.
This week, the French-speaking nation therefore decided that the old handle “les ecureuils” should be abandoned and replaced by the bolder and more imposing nickname of “les chépards” – “les guepards”.
Justifying the decision to abandon the poor squirrel in favor of a big cat, the federation says the nickname of the national team must resonate with the population, and reflect the country’s strong ambitions in the world of sport. .
The bolder new nickname therefore also reflects those of other African nations such as Cameroon, “the Indomitable Lions”, or neighboring Côte d’Ivoire, “the Elephants”.
In fact, each of Africa’s 54 national teams relies heavily on the animal kingdom for nickname inspiration. Thus, we have the “leopards” of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the “crocodiles” of Lesotho and the “wild dogs” of Guinea-Bissau.
For now, however, it’s goodbye to the squirrels.