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20th Jun 2024

Why do Italy play in blue despite it not featuring on their flag?

Harry Warner


Fans are scratching their heads over this colour conundrum

Sometimes things have been such a way for so long that people do not question why.

This is the case for Italy and their sporting attire, notably for their national football team, which is always represented by the colour blue.

The most eagle-eyed of football fans who did not fail geography at school will notice that blue is not on the Italian flag which begs the question why it is such a predominant part of their sporting heritage.

Although there are multiple theories to the reason behind the colour choice, there is one which is the most widely accepted.

The tale goes back over 150 years to the 1840s when a fragmented Italian peninsula was made up of seven states and had just entered into the messy process of unification.

This process took many years until 1861 when the Kingdom of Italy was officially declared under the House of Savoy, which had for a background colour on their crest, blue, or more precisely Savoy blue.

Time passed in a unified Italy and in 1910 the Italian national side played a football match in all white, a reflection of the fact that the country had yet to choose a colour for its strip.

It was not until a year later that a decision was made and Italy’s national football team walked out in an all blue shirt for the first time in honour of the Savoy monarchy in power at the time.

This was the start of a tradition that stuck.

In 1946 the Italian monarchy was abolished, and the Republic of Italy was established, but despite this massive political change, Italian sports teams, including the football team, decided to honour the House of Savoy for bringing their country together.

Before the abolition of the monarchy there was in fact blue on the Italian flag, nestled subtly behind the crest of the House of Savoy which took centre stage on the traditional Italian tricoloured flag.

Italy vs Germany 1982

The origin of Savoy blue as a colour in itself allegedly dates back to 1366 and the crusades.

Italy are not the only country to play in a kit colour different to the colours of their flags, with Germany playing in white and Australia playing in green and gold.

For Italy and Germany it is safe to say that these two nations have made their colours iconic through their huge international successes in football down the years.