By David Owen
October 8 – As we used to say in the TV era, “Do not adjust your set”: Italy really will be wearing green when they take on Greece in a European championship qualifier in Rome on Saturday night.
Over the years, one has grown to accept the endless creativity displayed by football organisations and their associates in order to persuade die-hard fans to part with their cash. Even so, it will come as a jolt when a team whose nickname is, after all, the azzurri, and whose second strip for as long as I can remember has been white and blue, line up in a colour more readily associated with the old Vanwall motor-racing outfit.
I can think of one precedent of sorts: blue used to be the colour of Ireland in the sport’s early days. Years ago, both representative sides from that island switched to green; but that followed years of political upheaval – and partition.
An article linked to the official international Twitter account of the national team – called, of course, @azzurri – claims the new Puma shirt is “inspired by the Renaissance period” and “designed to celebrate the numerous young talents who are taking increasingly important roles in the azzurris’ successes”. The team is, admittedly, cake-walking to qualification, with six wins out of six.
The article also points out that it has happened before – just once: the side wore green in a 2-0 win over Argentina some 65 years ago. It is worth remembering too, I suppose, that there is more green than blue on the Italian national flag.
But, come on, is there any sport in which blue is not the Italian national team’s colour? Returning to the website, Italian FA president Gabriele Gravina is quoted in the following terms: “The green symbolises the great work we are doing with our young players. We want to celebrate the Renaissance of Italian football with a colour that does not replace blue, but makes it even brighter.” The current cost of joining in the celebration by buying a green shirt from the FIGC online store appears to be €90.
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