Florence in Tuscany, Italy, the cradle of Renaissance, playground of legendary artists, and an irresistible gourmet destination, has a unique tradition that defies the city’s whole nature. Each year, in the month of June, Florence’s historic Piazza Santa Croce becomes the site of the bloodiest football game in the world, all in the name of Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. The Calcio Storico Fiorentino (historic football of Florence) is by far the bloodiest football game that has peculiar traits of rugby, wrestling, and martial arts.[Total: 4 Average: 5]
What is Calcio Storico Fiorentino
Originated in the 16th century, Calcio Storico Fiorentino is a combination of football, rugby, and wrestling. It started as a sport for the elites of Florence and was played every night in the period between Epiphany and Lent. The bloody and vicious game had the patronage of famous popes including Clement VII, Leo XI, and Urban VIII. King Henry III of France was honoured with the game in Venice and quipped, “Too small to be a real war and too cruel to be a game".View this post on Instagram
Today, the game is all about the historical re-enactment of a match played on 17th February 1530, when the Republic of Florence was under siege by the forces of Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor). READ MORE: Quintessential Tuscany: A Sojourn Into The Italian CountrysideView this post on Instagram
How the bloodiest football is played in FlorenceIn 1580, Giovanni de’ Bardi, a Florentine count published the official rules of Calcio Storico. The game has four teams, all historical neighbourhoods of Florence. The four teams are Santa Croce (Blue), Santo Spirito (White), Santa Maria Novella (Red), and San Giovanni (Green). Each team consist of 27 players. Four goalkeepers, three fullbacks, five centre-halves, and 15 forwards. Teams line up in a dirt square (Piazza Santa Croce) in front of the famous Basilica di Santa Croce.
The 50-minute game has one objective only – to score the maximum number of goals. Players can kick, throw and carry the ball into the opponent’s goal. There is also a prohibition for more than one player to attack an opponent. Opponents are allowed to indulge in mixed martial combat and tackle, wrestle, choke, block, body check and even throw punches (sucker punches and kicks to head are now banned). More often than not, the game descends into an all-out brawl! Injured players can't be replaced. The remaining players are then free to gather the ball and charge towards the opposition’s goal and score. There is no substitution, no injury time stoppages, the game continues for a full 50 minutes. The result is a violent and bloody game of football.View this post on Instagram
The game is officiated by a referee and six linesmen. The referee is the Master of the Field and only steps to stop the fights and maintain order and discipline.View this post on Instagram
What the winners of the bloodiest football match getBack in the day, winners used to take home a Chianina calf (an Italian cattle breed)! No kidding! But nowadays, the winning team just gets a free dinner at a restaurant.
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How deadly is the game of bloodiest footballThankfully, there are no cases of deaths in modern times but there are ample cases of players getting hospitalized with serious injuries. Broken noses, scrapped heads, cuts, bruises and blood oozing from deep gashes are common sights. The Calcio Storico Fiorentino was banned by the Florence city council in 2007, after a game descended into an uncontrollable mass brawl, leading to the arrests of over 50 players. Since then, new rules have banned convicted criminals from taking part in the game.
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Schedule, timings, and tickets of Calcio Storico Fiorentino 2019This year, four teams will play in the semis and winners of the semis will play the final game on June 24th, 2019 (the feast day of Florence’s patron saint, St. John the Baptist).
- Santa Maria Novella (Reds) vs San Giovanni (Green) on 15th June 2019 at 5 PM.
- Santa Croce (Blue) vs Santo Spirito (White) on 16th June 2019 at 5 PM.
- The colourful parade starts around 4 PM on 24th June and final match around 5 PM.
- Cost of tickets (29 to 80 Euros) depends on the seating. Tickets are not sold online, buy them from Boxoffice Toscana at Le Murate.