Is the Calico Storico the most brutal sport on earth? Judge for yourself but it certainly looks like it! The name (meaning ‘historic football’) comes from the sport created in the the 16th century in ancient Rome. It features incredibly brutal punches and kicks (it is played using both hands and feet) and is played in teams of 27. There are so few rules that headbutting, punching, elbowing, and choking are all allowed!
The official rules of the sport were written in 1580 by Giovanni de Bardi, a count from Florence. It lasts for 50 minutes uninterrupted and canon fire signals the start of the competition.
In terms of goals the ball has to be thrown through narrow slats at each end but between that it is all out war! There is however a referee and linesmen who are actually in charge, so they can call a halt to proceedings but there are no substitutions and if players are injured the have to simply keep going!
In the 17th century, enthusiasm for the Calcio Storico waned but it was revived in 1930 in Florence with a showpiece match scheduled each year on the feast day of the city’s patron saint, St John the Baptist.