Champions League contenders KAA Gent have an interesting badge with an even more interesting history
One of the most unique crests in world football is the one sitting on the chest of KAA Gent’s kits. For some seemingly inexplicable reason, a club based in Ghent, Belgium has a Native American chieftain as their club’s badge. The history of Belgium may be a little confusing at times but surely there were never any Native Americans living outside of Brussels or riding down the canals in Bruges.
How many times have fans gone to check the scores of Europa League matches or booted up FIFA and found themselves scrolling through the Belgium Pro League and seen a majestic looking chief as one of the club badges. That discovery was probably followed with the question of, “what the hell does Belgium have to do with Native Americans?”.
Well the answer is quite simple. In the early-1900s, there was a man named William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody who according to Wikipedia was “an American scout, bison hunter, and showman”. Buffalo Bill was the ringleader of a “Wild West” circus that toured Europe giving them a taste of the new frontier that was the wild west.
Bill and his circus made their way to Ghent at some point and it just so happened that a new athletic club had formed and had just added a football team. The club’s original nickname was La Gantoise but perhaps that did not sound macho enough for the supporters.
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After the visit from Bufallo Bill and his circus, the club changed their nickname to De Buffalos, which translates roughly to The Buffalos, and adopted the chieftain as their crest. To this day the leader of the supporters group dons a Native American headdress when leading chants at matches. The fans love the “warrior mentality” of the chieftain and believe that it fits their struggle
Problematic stereotypes and cultural appropriation aside, this is one of those funny little quirks in football that you rarely find in any other sports. Some of those include Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao switching from blue and white to red and white shirts because their board started buying Southampton kits instead of Blackburn Rovers kits.
Or a personal favorite, Juventus wearing black and white because they had a contact in England who sent them a box of Notts County kits just because he supported the club. KAA Gent may not win the Champions League but you would be hard pressed to find a club with a crest with more history than theirs. Especially one that has such interesting origins