Crazy-Ass Italian Sport Combines Rugby With Bare-Knuckle Fighting

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There is a sporting event held annually in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. It is called Calcio Fiorentino, and it is an ancient form of football that is essentially rugby, but with a whole bunch of dudes just mercilessly beating the crap out of each other.

The existence of Calcio Fiorentino somehow escaped our attention until now, but we would very much like to share it with you. Above, you can watch the 2014 semi-final match between Santo Spirito (Bianchi) and Santa Croce (Azzuri). Here are some things you will see:

  • A bunch of guys just wailing on each other. Duh.
  • The guy who has the ball spending most of the match just chilling behind the line of dudes demolishing each other. You may question this strategy, but if you watch long enough you'll see what happens to the guy with the ball if he tries to make a run toward the other team's goal (he basically gets murdered).
  • Dudes just sitting on top of other dudes for long periods of time. Aside from just knocking people out, an effective strategy seems to be subduing an opponent and then just sitting on him for as long as possible so as to prevent him from tackling the ball-carrier when a run toward the goal is made.
  • The referee, who is wearing really cool pants, taking the ball any time the ball-carrier gets tackled and just throwing it as high into the air as he possibly can. Chaos reigns as the ball makes its descent.
  • This guy:
  • A man who appears to be quite old getting his hands on the ball around the 43-minute mark. You will worry for this man.

Now, a little explanation of what exactly is going on here. There are 27 players on each team, and the purpose of the game is to throw the ball into the other team's goal, which appears to span the entire length of the opposite fence. Players are allowed to use any means necessary to advance or stop the ball, and the team with the most goals at the end of 50 minutes wins a cow. It's really hard to imagine why we need any other sport in our lives.

h/t Paul