Sanfrecce Hiroshima is the oldest continuously active team in the J.League, as the historical successor team to Mazda Motor football club, which was founded in 1939. Oddly enough, the team's official publicity department downplays these links. Though other teams have also distanced themselves from the corporations which gave them birth, in Sanfrecce's case it is a bit difficult to understand, since Mazda has been a generous contributor to the team's development. Perhaps it is more a case of the history being less interesting than the present. Mazda was not a particularly strong franchise, though it had a brief flirtation with success just before the creation of the J.League, in 1993. The year before the league was created, Mazda Motor finished sixth, and was included as one of the original founding members.
The team took the name "Sanfrecce, which is an odd combination of the Japanese word for "three" and the Italian word for "arrow". The three arrows is a potent symbol in the Hiroshima area, as it references Mori Motonari, a samurai leader who ruled the area, and who adopted the three arrows as his battle standard. Though the original Sanfrecce team emblem contained visual references to the Mazda legacy, but in 2004 the team adopted a new logo which contains more symbolism related to Hiroshima, including the three arrows that inspired the team name.