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WATCH: Calcio Fiorentino – The Most Violent Team Sport On The Planet?

Calcio Fiorentino, also known as Calcio Storico is basically a mix of Soccer, Rugby, American Football and hand to hand combat. 


Calcio Fiorentino. Where do you begin? It’s an early form of football originating out of Italy during the 16th century. In fact it really looks nothing like football in truth. It doesn’t even look like it has rules at first glance.

So how does it work? 

Matches last fifty minutes with two teams of twenty-seven men facing off against each other. There are no substitutions allowed, once you’re too injured to carry on you are gone and nobody takes your place. This is important so remember it as it goes along way to explaining why the sport looks so barbaric.

A goal net runs the width of each end and the match takes place in a arena covered in sand with a halfway line marked out. Teams compromise of the following:

– 4 goalkeepers

– 3 full backs

-5 half backs

– 15 forwards

A captain for each team remains in the centre of his side’s goal but doesn’t actually participate, instead they organise their team’s strategy (yes, there is actually a strategy).

How does a team win? 

The aim of the game is to score more goals than the other team after fifty minutes of play. How you do this is really up to you. Teams can use any means necessary whether that be throwing, kicking or even walking/running it in. But there’s a catch, if a team misses the goal a half point is awarded to their opponent. This encourages teams to get as close as they can before finishing. Which in turn encourages a whole lot of violence.

One man will have the ball at all times, the other 26 players on his team essentially act as blockers. they will engage opponents in full on fights in order to create space for a run or shot. All fights must be one one one as players cannot be attacked by more than one opponent at a time. Head-butts, elbowing and choking are all allowed but sucker punches and kicks to the head are not (though they do appear to happen).

As mentioned earlier, there are no substitutions which in turn produces an incentive for players to batter their opponent to the point where he cannot carry on, giving their team a numerical advantage.

Referees roam the field seeking to enforce what little rules there are but essentially it’s carnage.

I don’t believe such madness exists, where’s your proof!?

If it’s proof you seek feast your eyes on these. The first is a very interesting short documentary by a digital publication called Narratively. They followed the modern incarnation of Calcio Sotrico back in 2013.

Calcio Storico from Narratively on Vimeo.

Next up we bring you a full match from the 2014 annual competition held over three days in Florence. Note the funky shorts that hark back to the sports origins. Calcio is commonly translated in to English as football (though that isn’t the direct translation) but as you can see from the match, it’s more akin to Rugby or American Football but with a heavy dose of violence.

For anyone interested, this is the trailer for the upcoming Calcio Fiorentino 2015:

The event takes place on Wednesday 24th June in Florence and details can be found here.


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.