As a huge fan of rugby, boxing, and all sports aggressive, it comes as a shocking surprise to learn about the treasure that is, Calcio Storico – the most violent sport in the world.
On a pitch of sand, a canon fires and the players begin the game by fighting – punching, kicking, tripping, and wrestling – with each other in a barbaric attempt to damage the oppositions defences.
The modern rules of calcio allow players to punch, kick to the body, head-butt, elbow, and choke opponents, but sucker punches and kicks to the head are banned.
Only four teams play the sport, all from neighbouring and rival districts of Florence representing the four quarters of the city.
Looking like nothing more than a prison brawl, it is rumoured that the sport originated from the Roman Gladiators who used it as a way of keeping strong and fit.
The match lasts a full 50 minutes without any stoppage time, even when players have to be stretchered off the pitch by medics.
The teams consist of three fullbacks and four goalies, who try to stop attacking players from scoring. There is also five halfbacks, and 15 forwards – all of whom are unpaid and train hard all year for the event.
Though notorious in all its bloody aggression, there is a referee and six linesmen who attempt to keep the peace, but at any one time they have dozens of fights to deal with, meaning many players have been knocked out before being reached.
The aim of the game is similar to football – the players simply fight (literally) to get the ball into the back of the net. So imagine football, or more precisely, gaelic football, with a fuck tonne of violence and voila, you got Calcio Storico.
Apparently no deaths have ever occurred as a result of playing Calcio Storico, however people have been hospitalised for up to five months after suffering serious head injuries.
Back in the 16th century, even Popes, such as Clement VII and Leo XI, used to play the game in the Vatican City.
Calcio Storico, also known as Calcio Fiorentino, takes place every year in June in the historical Piazza Santa Croce where the game first originated.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.