Calcio Fiorentino. Photo www.thetweetpig.com
As the bruises fade from this year’s Calcio Fiorentino and the match between the Santa Maria Novella/Rossi (the Reds) and Santo Spirito/Bianchi (the Whites) is talked about and dissected, we at Outrageous Sports lament the sad state of football in Australia.
What am I talking about?
Calcio Fiorentino (also known as ‘historic football’ or the ‘Florentine kick game’) has just been decided in the Pizzza Santa Croce in Florence. The game is played over three matches between teams from each quarter of the city. The teams are Santa Croce/Azzurri (the Blues), Santa Maria Novella/Rossi (the Reds), Santo Spirito/Bianchi (the Whites) and San Giovanni/Verdi (the Greens). The three matches take place in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence in the third week of June, with the final having just been fought out on the 24th of June.
Reds vs Blues in Calcio Fiorentino. Photo: www.thetweetpig.com
And when I say ‘fought out’ I mean it.
Matches take place within a 50 minute time period on a field twice as long as it is wide. The field is divided into two identical squares with a goal net along each end.
Each team is comprised of 27 hardy souls with no substitutions are allowed. A Pallaio throws the ball towards the centre line, a canon is fired, and the contest begins. Players on either side try ‘by any means necessary’ to shoot the ball into their opponent’s goal. Tactics like head-butting, punching, elbowing and choking are all part of the game. Sucker punches and having more than one opponent attacking another are frowned upon and now attract immediate expulsion. With each goal the teams swap sides, the Pallaio throws the ball along the centre line and the brutality begins again.
The 27 players are divided into 4 goalkeepers, 3 fullbacks, 5 halfbacks, and 15 forwards. Each team’s Captain and Standard Bearer sit in a tent, in the centre of their goal net, and do not take part in the carnage. However they may organise strategies and step in to separate players should the fighting get out of hand.
Calcio Fiorentino. Photo” www.thetweetpig.com
The game is controlled by a referee, six linesmen, a Judge Commissioner, and Master of the Field. Players are not permitted pads, mitts, mouth pieces or any type modern body protection equipment.
This is the Great Grandpappy of football. It is football for men. The players of Calcio Fiorentino are amongst the fittest, most highly trained fighters on earth. There is nothing else even remotely like it. All other codes of football are but prissy, weak, pale reflections.