Why Does Italy Play In Blue? 

Given that the Italian national flag is Green, White, and Red, you could be forgiven for wondering why the Italian national soccer team plays their home internationals in a blue jersey.

Many nations use their national flag to at least some degree when choosing their jersey colors, but Italy stands out from the crowd in its blue jersey. 

Why Italian Teams Wear Blue

Firstly, it’s essential to recognize which color of blue the Italians have chosen for their kit; it’s not sky blue, it’s not dark blue, and it’s most certainly not baby blue. No, the color chosen to adorn the national jersey of Italy is Savoy blue, also known as savoy azure. 

And it’s not just because it’s a nice color that Italian national teams chose savoy blue; there’s a history behind it, it’s a part of who Italy is, there’s a reason the team is known as Gli Azzurri, the Blues. And today, we’re going to look into what makes the color blue so intertwined with the national team of Italy. 

Why Savoy Blue? 

Incredibly, the choice of Savoy blue dates back as far as the Crusades, where in 1366, the Count of Savoy decided that he wanted a blue flag on his fleet of departing galleys, and the color quickly became tied to the House of Savoy.

One of the ruling Italian dynasties, the House of Savoy, transformed over time from the Duchy of Savoy to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, and eventually to the Kingdom of Italy. 

By the time the Kingdom of Italy had been formed in 1861, Savoy blue had become forever entwined with Italy and has remained so ever since. The Kingdom of Italy endured until 1946, when at the end of the Second World War, the Italian republic was formed.

Savoy blue was a nationally and culturally important color, and upon the formation of the Italian national team in 1910, you’d think choosing the color of the national jersey would be a no-brainer, right? 

When Did Italy Start Wearing Savoy Blue? 

In fact, initially, the Italian team first seemed undecided on what color to choose, and during their first few games, Italy played in white.

There are several plausible reasons for this choice, and we may never know the true story, but one reason is that the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) genuinely couldn’t make up its mind on the color to choose.

Another reason cited was the fact that dye was quite expensive, so using a white soccer kit would be a fair bit cheaper than a colored one. It’s hard to believe that a national team could be so hard up for cash that they’d rather not spend money dying their national team, but it’s not implausible that it had some bearing on the delays. 

After two international matches against Hungary and France, Italy changed their jersey to the Savoy blue that had been so prevalent throughout Italian history. The kit would remain a huge part of the Italian soccer team’s identity until the present day.

However, for a time during the 1930s, the team was forced to wear a black soccer kit by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. 

Thankfully this color change was short-lived, and by the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946, the Savoy blue jersey was reinstated. The badge on the Italian jersey had, from 1910 until 1946, displayed the emblem of the House of Savoy.

This was changed at the abolishment of the monarchy in 1946 and replaced by the Tricolore, the three colors of the Italian flag. 

World Cup Victories For The Azzurri 

After changing their jersey to Savoy blue in 1911, the only way for the Azzurri was upwards, and in the years that followed the Italian national team became one of the most successful national teams in history. A first World Cup in 1934 was quickly followed with Italy defending their title four years later, in 1938. 

The national team then went through several barren decades before winning their third World Cup in Spain in 1982. This third victory prompted a change in the design of the crest on the Italian jersey. Where before the word Italia had been above the crest, three stars now replaced it to commemorate the three victories. 

In 2006, Italy won their fourth World Cup, this time on German soil, and added a fourth star to the crest. Italy are by far one of the most successful nations ever to compete in a World Cup, joint second with Germany on four titles, and only one behind Brazil, who have won the competition five times. 

Italy have also finished runners-up in the World Cup twice, once in 1970, and more famously in USA 94 where they lost on penalties to Brazil, with Italian legend Roberto Baggio missing the vital penalty for Italy. Had they won the shootout, Italy would have been the most successful national team of all time. 

European Championship Victories

If winning four World Cup titles isn’t enough to cement the Azzurri as one of the best international teams ever, then it’s worth remembering that the Italian team has also won two UEFA European Championships too. A victory in 1968 on home soil was the start of a few very good years for the team, as they went on to win the World Cup two years later. 

In 2020 an Italian team that had seemingly no chance of winning the European Championships (on paper at least) shocked the soccer world by beating England in the Final. There had been very little cause for optimism for Italy, who had failed to qualify for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, and the squad seemed weaker than it had been for many years. 

One thing the team was doing though, apart from not qualifying for World Cups, was winning games, both competitive as well as friendlies. From October 2018 until October 2021, Italy went an unprecedented 37 games without defeat, a world record. 

Even so, expectations were low for the 2020 (played in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic) Championships. So it came as a welcome surprise for Italian soccer fans to see their team, still playing in blue, and still somehow finding ways to win international tournaments. 

Conclusion 

The Italian national soccer team aren’t the only team in Italy to wear the Savoy blue, the Men’s and Women’s national Rugby teams also wear blue, as does the Women’s national soccer team. Each national team is known as the Azzurri, regardless of which sport they play, something that unifies the national teams together. 

The Italian away kit is a white color, in remembrance of their few games in 1910 and 1911 where they played all in white. Perhaps it’s a nod to days past when the Italian Football Federation felt that the cost of dyeing the national teams jersey was just too expensive? 

Such is the importance of the color to Italians, their honoring of the Italian monarchy, and a desire to remember Italian history as far back as the Crusades, that it’s unlikely that Italy will ever change its national colors. And to be fair, watching Italy play soccer in anything but blue would just feel wrong.

Connor Smith

I'm Connor, the guy behind SoccerPrime. I'm a former NCAA Div 1 college player that retired at the age of 21 due to injuries - which led me into a new career as a soccer coach.

Recent Posts