The Rooster on French Jerseys

Why is there a rooster on French jerseys? Why will there be a rooster on Team France's uniform during the Olympics? England has a lion, Germany has an eagle, and in France, there is the French rooster.

During the recent FIFA World Cup 2022, the French football team, Les Bleus, proudly sported a golden rooster on their national team blue uniforms. More than just a symbolic image, the rooster plays an important role in the history of the French republic. It is the national emblem of France which you see on many French uniforms including the French soccer jersey.

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illustrative interpretation of the rooster on french jerseys
Not quite the rooster on French jerseys, but my interpretation! Illustration commissioned from Linden Eller.

What is the rooster on France’s sports uniforms?

The rooster on French sports uniforms is the Gallic Rooster, a symbol that originated in the ancient days when France was known as Gaul in Latin. An inhabitant of Gaul was known as Gallus, which is also a Latin word for rooster. The wordplay started as a joke, insinuating that the French were nothing more than barnyard animals without any elegance or sophistication. 

The Rooster: the symbol of France

As the years passed, the joke stuck and transformed into a symbol that the French royalty would soon adopt. In the Middle Ages, the rooster disappeared but soon reappeared in the 14th century in Germany.

From Renaissance onward, the rooster became an icon of courage and bravery and was almost an extension of the coat of arms of the French kings. The rooster started being visible on coins, engravings, and almost every French representation.

Tricolor Rooster with Liberty cap and Cockade
Rooster with a Phrygian Cap, the Paris Olympics Mascot!

The importance of the rooster only grew during the French Revolution so much so that it was seen on national stamps. Several members of Conseil d’État came up with an idea to make the rooster a national symbol, an idea refused by Napoleon I on the grounds that an empire as strong as France needs a valiant symbol and that rooster was not powerful enough to represent that.

Despite the rejection, the rooster re-emerged in the 1800s when it was ordered to appear on the buttons of the uniform of the National Guard as well as on the top of their flags. The rooster once again faced rejection at the hands of Napoleon III but it became the symbol of the Third Republic.

The rooster, in all its glory, was placed on the top of the gate of the gardens of the Élysée Palace.

rooster on gate in the gardens of the Élysée Palace

During the First World War, the rooster became a symbol of France’s bravery and resistance on the battlefield. The French-German confrontation showcased the rooster fighting an eagle and from then on, it appeared in several propaganda posters and was also part of patriotic songs.

Why is there a rooster on France’s sports uniforms?

The rooster has been a part of France’s sports jerseys for the past 120 years since the French football team played against Belgium in 1904. In the sporting world, the rooster became a representation of the country and was seen on the banners of the 1998 World Champion France.

During the World Cup, the French mascot was the Footix Rooster – dressed in the colors of the country’s flag. Due to the morning crow of a rooster, the animal also signifies faith and light, a concept that represents triumph over darkness and evil. This is one of the mottos that is highly considered a symbol of triumph by French athletes.

How about you? Are you a fan of French sports? Did you know about the rooster? Do tell!

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illustration of french roostergirl playing soccerTricolor-Rooster-with-Liberty-cap-and-Cockade

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