Welcome to the world of Calcio Storico – widely regarded as the most violently brutal sport in existence.
Calcio Storico is an ancient form of football from the 16th century and is played only once a year in Florence’s main square in northern Italy.
Teams of 27 take each other on, with the object of the game being simply to get the ball to your end of the pitch, reports the Daily Star.
The sport is so bloodthirsty that, after watching a ‘match’ in 1574, King Henry III of France said it was ‘too small to be a war and too cruel to be a game’ – a fairly accurate description.
Like football, the team with the most ‘goals’ at the end of the match is the winner.
However, unlike football, pretty much anything goes including head-butting, punching, elbowing, martial arts techniques, and choking.
Professional Calcio Storico players are – as you may have guessed – a pretty hardcore group, with players typically built more like boxers than footballers.
Also, unlike other sports – such as American Football – there is a distinct lack of any sort of safety equipment like padding or helmets.
Matches last 50 minutes with no stoppages – even if injured players need to be stretchered off the pitch – and no substitutions are allowed, meaning teams go to extreme lengths to ‘take-out’ their opponents.
Although it doesn’t look like it, there are a few rules. Thankfully, kicks to the head are not allowed and no more than one player can attack an opponent at the same time – so that’s nice.
And – you’re probably thinking – with what amazing prize are you rewarded for your efforts?
Well, the traditional trophy for the victors used to be a Chianina cow (one of the oldest breeds in existence), however, nowadays the winners just get a free dinner.
I assume they get one each, although that isn’t clear. Maybe they have to fight over that too?