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Why does Italy wears azzurro?

It has to do with the Savoia family, a crusade and complicated Italian history

Why does Italy wears azzurro? It has to do with the Savoia family, a crusade and complicated Italian history

There have been very few cases in which the Italian national team has played in colours other than light blue. The green jersey, inspired by the Renaissance, presented a year and a half ago, which has divided public opinion so much, is proof of this. A jersey that arrived at one of the most difficult times in our sporting history, designed to instil hope but which had the side effect of reawakening Italian traditionalism when it comes to football shirts, with the public clamouring for the return of the classic light blue. Despite the fact that light blue is now part of the collective imagination of world sport and the athletes who represent the country are called Azzurri, watching the first matches of EURO2020 one realises what an exception it is: we are one of the very few national teams whose colour is not present in the flag palette. The origin of light blue - or rather Blu Savoia - has its roots in the Kingdom of Italy and the coat of arms of the ruling family, the Savoia

According to a historical reconstruction, the origin of the colour seems to date back to 1366 when Amadeus VI of Savoia, before leaving for a crusade, wanted a blue flag next to the red-crowned coat of arms of the Savoia family on his flagship, which was guiding the fleet towards Jerusalem. Blue in the Catholic imagination is one of the colours of Mary, who is often depicted in sacred images wearing a blue cloak. The colour was then gradually incorporated into the Savoia flags until it was recognised in 1848 as one of the national colours, even surviving, surprisingly enough, the end of the Monarchy in 1946. Today, as well as representing sporting Italy, it is also present on the flags of the Piedmont region, the Liguria region and the coat of arms of the city of Turin.

The first use of Azzurro Savoia in sport dates back to 6 January 1911, when the national football team faced Hungary in its third official match in Milan. In its first match, played against France, the national team wore a white jersey, precisely because no common agreement had yet been reached on the colour to be used. Just for the record and not for rivalry, Italy won that match just 6-2. Subsequently there were other periods when the blue jersey was replaced - the longest interlude was during fascism, during which the national team played in a black uniform - and several variations, but blue remained the main Italian sporting colour. 

On a technical level, however, there is no unambiguous colour coding for blue shirts, and the uniforms of the various national teams have changed various shades. According to the Hexadecimal Numerical System, the classic Blu Savoia is identified with the code #007CC3 while in the sRGB Colour Space System the colour coordinates correspond to (0; 124; 195)

Light blue has always been with us, and it will also be with us at these European Championships, even though Italy made its debut against Turkey in the new white jersey made by PUMA. From the greatest victories to the defeats, the blue has resisted even the transition from monarchy to democracy, a colour that has represented Italy for over 100 years.