Blue is worn by Italian soccer players, Olympiads and represents over 6 centuries of tradition.
Although our 50 American states have been snuggling under the same constitution since 1776, Italy’s 20 regions didn’t unify until 1861. Ironically, Garibaldi, the Northern general who is credited to have unified all regions, won his final battles in Sicily weeks before the first shots of the American Civil war at Fort Sumter.
Once unified, the Savoy, or Savoia family, who governed much of the northwest for over 500 years and whose family crest included blue, was instated to rule all of Italy. The Savoy’s royal crush is attributed to have started in 1366 when Conte Verde, Amedeo VI of Savoy, returned from a papal sponsored crusade waving a large blue flag in tribute to the Madonna. The color also appeared in the family crest.
, thus increasing what was to become modern Italian sport color.
From that time royal military officers wore blue knotted scarves, as made officially mandatory in 1572 by the Savoys, that the officers of the Italian armed forces continue during ceremonies.
Azzurro was adopted as the official color of athletic jerseys for the Italian national soccer team, as a tribute to the Royal House of Italy, wore blue shirts for the first time in January 1911, and the maglietta azzurra quickly become the symbol of the sport.
Furthering it’s the cool hue was recommended by the Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano as being the official jersey color by all sports and by the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, all Italian athletes wore blue.
After the war, even though the monarchy was ousted in Italy and the Italian Republic was born, blue uniforms were kept for national sports yet omitted the Savoia crest.
Gli Azzurri refers to the Italian national soccer, rugby, and ice hockey teams, and the Italian ski team as a whole is referred to as the Valanga Azzurra , or Blue Avalance. The female form, Le Azzurre, is likewise used to refer to Italian women’s national teams.
So when you watch the Olympics this Summer, don’t just say “Go Italy!”…shout “Forza Azzurri!”