1

"外援" literally means "foreign assistance". Why are "外籍球员" called "外援" then?

2

外援 Is short for 外來援軍 (reinforcement from outside). It refers to players who came from outside of your organization

Although in practice, all the 外援 are 外籍球员, but in theory, a team can borrow a player from another local term for a period, and that player from other term can also be called 外援 (outside reinforcement)

My point is, 外 in 外援 doesn't refer to 外籍(foreign), it refers to 外來 (from outside); and 援 is not a short form of 援助 (assistance), but a short form of 援軍 (reinforcement)

As I stated before, since all the 外援 are 外籍球员, people can safely presume 外援 = 外籍球员

outside of team sport lingo, 外援 mostly refers to "Foreign aid", short for 對外援助 or 外來援助

  • Thanks! It confuses me that when a Chinese club loans a Chinese player to another Chinese club, the player is never called 外援. The term 外援 seems to be reserved exclusively for foreign players. Even the official documents from 中国足协 uses the term 外援 in this way. – Zuriel Jul 24 at 11:49
  • 1
    @Zuriel As I said: "外援 = 外籍球员" is an accepted fact by popular consent. Although the 外 in 外援 originally referred to 'from outside', we all accepted it refers to '外籍' in team sport lingo. However, 援 in 外援 is still referring to '援軍' not '援助' Therefore, 外援 is short for 外籍援軍' in practice – Tang Ho Jul 24 at 12:02

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