Holland or Holland: how should we refer to the football team ‘Oranje’?

The Dutch football team has been a constant presence on the international stage for decades, participating in 10 World Cups and 10 European Championships, winning continental competition in 1988 and reaching the final of the global tournament three timesin 1974, 1978 and 2010. Oranje has been represented by some of the best players ever lacing up a pair of cleats, from Eddy de Neve, Abe Lentra and Faas Wilkes for Johan Cruyff, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie.

But there is some confusion as to the correct name for the national side. The Dutch national team is commonly known as the Netherlands or Holland: is one more correct than the other? In reality, both names are used just as often as the other. On the official Netherlands tourism website, both the Netherlands and the Dutch national team are used liberally to refer to Oranje.

What is the difference between Netherlands and Netherlands?

Before the unification of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, or the Dutch Republiclike the Batavian Republic under French rule in 1795, when Napoleon’s troops invaded, Holland was not a kingdom. That changed when William I, Prince of Orange, returned to the country in 1813. to fill the void after Napoleon’s brother Louis was forced to abdicate. William I created the United Netherlands as a kingdom, but the southern regions opposed unification and gained independence in 1830 as Belgium. The Dutch national team’s nickname, Oranje, comes from the House of Orange-Nassauof which William I was a descendant and which remains the reigning royal house in Holland to this day.

The word Holland in Dutch literally means “Netherlands”, and is sometimes also used to refer to the wider association of Benelux nations – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The term Holland historically refers only to two of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands, Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland, but as these were traditionally the source of most of the country’s wealth and economic output, it became common to use the term Holland to refer to the entire country.

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