Italy wear black strip
“A sporting system is the by-product of society and its political system, and it is just boyhood dreaming to suppose you can ever take politics out of sport” – Peter Hain
The question of whether sport and politics should be allowed to mix is one that is largely redundant. The lines between the two are blurred so frequently that at times they can be considered a single entity.
Down the years, sport and politics have collided in such a fashion that it has stirred great controversy.
The England cricket team was roundly cirticised for touring apartheid South Africa in 1982 and the British football team received similar treatment, albeit years later, for giving fascist salutes to Adolf Hitler in 1938.
In that same year, with the international climate primed for the outbreak of the Second World War, Italian football disgraced itself with a similar outpouring of fascist sentiment.
The Italians, the eventual winners of the tournament, were drawn to play France in the quarter final after battling past Norway in extra time.
With both teams playing in blue, Italy had to use a change strip after losing a coin toss, however rather then donning their traditional white kits they decided to opt for black on the behest of dictator Benito Mussolini.
Blackshirts, or camicie nere in Italian, were synonymous with fascist military groups in Italy in the run-up to the war and become symbolic of right-wing activism.
The decision riled the French, who had already staged a 10,000 strong protest at the Stade Velodrome ahead of the Italian’s opening game.
A much stronger side than France, and helped by inept goalkeeping Italy won the sporting battle but will be seen to have lost politically in the eyes of history.
It was the last time that the Italians would wear the strip but was the very beginning of a marriage between sport and political controversy.