The brutal grandfather of football

«Too small to be a real war and too cruel to be a game»

Somewhere in the dark crossroads between mixed martial arts and football you find the ancestor of all the football games, in all it’s bloody glory. Calcio storico Fiorentino. The ballgame is played on a 80×40 meters sand turf, with 27 pumped up men on each team in a 50min battle each other to score goals. All goes.


In the 1600’s Henri III of France recalled it «Too small to be a real war and too cruel to be a game» and after watching a couple of games I see his point. Thinking of his days, I can’t imagine.
The teams start on their half in a 4-3-5-15 formation, goalies-fullbacks-halfbacks-forwards.
The twenty-seven players of a team are split into in the following roles: – Four «Datori Indietro» (literally «Back givers», i.e. goalkeepers) – Three «Datori Innanzi» (literally «Fore givers», i.e. wingbacks) – Five «Sconciatori» (literally something like «Breaker», with the meaning of someone who put himself (or the others) in a battered state), i.e. defensive midfielders – Fifteen «Innanzi» or «Corridori» (literally «Ahead» or «Runners», i.e. strikers)
*Semi finals further down on this page.

54 trained men charge each other to get openings for the runners to score. The goal is 40 m (131ft) wide and about 3m (10ft) high, but due to the fence around the field the goal is about 1,5m (5ft) x 40m above the padding surrounding the field. one scored goal is one point, but one miss is 0.5 point to the opposition.
War it is, rather aggressive trained (or not) men volunteering to go out there kicking, punching, wrestling, pacifying, tackling, you name it. All goes to even the numbers to ones favor. No subs here, if you’re out – you’re out. One rule, only one vs one fights. But here are some vague rules I don’t get about tackling, and you can’t kick against the head and choke players. (added to the game in present days.)
If a player violates the rules of the game he is sent sent off.

After just a few seconds out in the first game the thought struck me: This is a perfect recreational sport in rural parts of the world.  The game consists mainly of trying to pacify the opponent to get more room to score goals. In short – cut him down. If a player have the ball or not have nothing to say in this game, you can attack whom ever you want, wherever you want on the field. It all reminds me about a redneck bar brawl that’s moved out to the parking lot, if Billy-Bob hits you flat out, you’re out.
All you need is a sand (or gravel) pitch, some drunks from the local village, a judge (maybe the barkeeper?) and a ball. There is a great potential in this revival of the sport, especially when none of the players are professional. All of them are volunteers. So Billy-Bob may get a celebrity status just by doing what he is used to.

The team that have scored the most goals, or have the most misses from the opponent win. As all players are amateurs and don’t get paid, the bleeding, toothless, bruised and broken winners of course get a price for the effort. A cow. Or not really, they used to but these days they get a nice dinner party.


Homage and honor, that’s all they play for.



Calcio storico Fiorentino, first semi 2017.
Full game.


Calcio storico Fiorentino, second semi 2017.
Ceremony and full game.

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