Rough Diplomacy

The Calcio Storico, The Most Brutal Sport on Earth

The Calcio Storico – ‘historic football’ – is an ancient form of football from the 16th century, which originated from the ancient roman ‘harpastum’, and is played in teams of 27, using both feet and hands. Sucker-punches and kicks to the head are prohibited but headbutting, punching, elbowing, and choking are all allowed

Players from the Santo Spirito Bianchi team prepare for the final of the Calcio Storico in Florence, Italy.

Men in traditional dress march through the city before the final match between Santo Spirito Bianchi and San Giovanni Verdi. The official rules were written in 1580 by Giovanni de Bardi, a count from Florence.

 

The players and officials enter Santa Croce square for the final which is played on a field of sand with 27 players on each side.

 

The Santo Spirito Bianchi players bond before the start of the for the final which lasts for 50 minutes.

 

Cannon fire signals the start of the match.

 

Players fight for possession of the ball. Goals can be scored by throwing the ball over narrow slits at each end.

 

 

A referee and six linesmen control the game along with an off-field judge. The referee is deemed master of the field.

 

 

The match is played for 50 minutes without interruption even if players receive injuries and are stretchered off the pitch. No substitutions are permitted.

 

 

Fans watch the brutal action from houses surrounding the Santa Croce square.

 

 

Martial arts techniques are permitted but it is prohibited for more than one player to attack an opponent. Any violation can lead to expulsion from the match.

 

 

In the 17th century, enthusiasm for the Calcio Storico waned but it was revived in 1930 with the final scheduled each year on the feast day of the city’s patron saint, St John the Baptist.

 

 

In 1574, when Henry III of France was staying in Venice, a fight was staged in his honour. He said that the event was ‘too small to be a real war and too cruel to be a game’.

 

In 2007, city officials handed out a one-year ban to the Calcio Storico after a brawl that saw 50 players taken to court.

 

 

Players here fight for possession of the ball. Punching and elbowing are allowed but kicks to the head are prohibited.

 

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In 1530 when Florence was under siege, a match took place as an act of defiance against the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V

 

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Santo Spirito Bianchi players celebrate winning the final of the Calcio Storico Fiorentino. The winning team is presented with a Chianina cow, one of the oldest breeds of cow in existence.

 

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For the matches, a temporary arena full of sand, was set up on the piazza in front of the Basilica of Santa Croce. Some fans watched from bleachers and nearby buildings.

 

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Rodrigue Nana, a Cameroon-born transplant to Italy, played for the Bianchi, representing the Santo Spirito quarter of Florence.CreditClara Vannucci 

 

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Calcio Storico Fiorentino a violent history lesson of Florence’s once gloried past

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Many of the players train as boxers and have been in this event 25 years.

ROSSI ” del Calcio Storico” | by Pogliani Stefano

 

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Calcio Storico, un lampo Rosso poi gli Azzurri trionfano

 

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Calcio storico: Bianchi in finale con due strepitose cacce (2-1). Ma gli Azzurri escono con onore

 

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Calcio Storico Fiorentino

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Calcio storico fiorentino: la partita in piazza Santa Croce

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Finale Calcio Storico Fiorentino 2012 Azzurri Vs. Bianchi

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Here is Fabrizio “Vallero” as he runs with the ball – Photo credit Franco Ciarleglio

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… Calcio Storico Fiorentino, 24 giugno, Firenze –

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2016

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