A blend of gratuitous violence and athleticism, the Calcio Storico saw spectators pour into the grounds of Florence’s Santa Croce basilica to watch fully grown men brawl to victory in Italy’s oldest game of soccer.
Dating back to the 16th Century, the Calcio Storico, or Historic Football, is the beautiful game – but with two black eyes and a dislocated shoulder.
It involves teams of 27 vying to put the ball in the back of their opponents net. However, the rules of game are rather vintage, with kicking, punching, headbutting and even wrestling seen as a legitimate forms of attack and defense.
The event was banned for a season 10 years ago following a mass brawl by more than 50 players in a 2007 game.
On Sunday, scores of people surrounded the sand pitch outside the Santa Croce basilica as four teams took part in the Renaissance-era tournament.
Footage from the final between the San Giovanni Greens and the Santa Maria Novella Reds reveals an intense fixture, with players dragging one another to the ground and even laying on some bare knuckle boxing. According to local media the Greens won with a scores of 10 and a half goals to four.
The winners were then toasted along the banks of the river Arno, in what was a mild mannered end to a brutal day of sport.
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