FC Santa Claus Arctic Circle is a Finnish soccer club founded in 1993. They are based in Rovaniemi, Finland, which is the capital of Finland’s northern-most province (Lapland). Despite appropriating the term “Arctic Circle” in the name, the city is located 6 miles south of the actual Circle. However, Fins claim it as the home of Father Christmas and a Christmas theme park is located near the city, so it undoubtedly has holiday spirit.
Even though Santa has existed for centuries, his namesake soccer club has existed for a much briefer time. The club was formed in 1993 when two teams – Rovaniemen Reipas and Rovaniemen Lappi FC – merged. Why neither had a creative Santa-themed name is a mystery, but the marketing people corrected that immediately with the new club. The name, logo, and brand connect to Lapland’s claim to the part-historic, part-mythical figure and were pretty much necessary to gain attention to a team in the lower levels of Finnish professional soccer.
The club began in the third tier (Kakkonen) of Finnish football and held their own for a few years. In 2000, they were relegated to the third division/fourth tier and almost came right back up, but settled into a pattern of finishing near the top, but not near enough. In 2008 they won promotion, only to be relegated again. Last year, they returned to the Kakkonen from the Kolmonen and currently sit eighth in the table.
Lest you think this is entirely shtick on their part, the club fully embraces its role as the soccer representatives of Santa’s home. The recent press release announcing a business deal with Chinese company Bewin Sports shows business people wearing the uniform and smiling, with Saint Nick right in the middle. The logo has the jolly guy on it prominently, and the team store has merchandise with Santa on it (although your better bet is World Soccer Shop). The club even had a Reddit AMA with Santa.
Although they will not be seen on U.S. TV anytime soon, FC Santa Claus is an easy team to adopt as a second or third favorite. By far they have the most unique marketing pitch for their club, although they still fall into second place in the funny club name contest behind FL Fart in Norway.