Give peace a chance

Calcio Storico returns to Florence

Editorial Staff
October 31, 2007

After a year-long ban for excessive player violence, Florence’s homegrown Renaissance soccer pageant, the Calcio Storico, is returning. 


With new rules and tougher penalties in place, the organizers hope to restrain the foul play that shut down the centuries-old tournament last year.


A friendly match, scheduled for October 27, puts the new 2008 rules to the test. Teams are now required to enlist community members and residents of Florence’s four historic neighbourhoods, instead of recruiting outsiders from the world of professional sport.  In addition, it is mandatory that teams train together in order to instill ‘a love for the sport and fair play’. Maintaining reciprocal respect and an attitude of friendly competition are the organizers’ main aims.


President of the Calcio Storico association, Elisabetta Meucci, said that any players who use ‘deliberate and excessive use of force’ will face stiff penalties next year. ‘We want to relaunch this important Florentine tradition by boosting its positive aspects, which were unfortunately overshadowed by the negative ones in the past few years,’ she added. Calcio Storico has been marred by intense fighting over the past few years. In 2005 police launched investigations against 40 players. Last year more than 50 players were charged for involvement in a violent clash during the first game of the season, after which organizers opted to suspend the historic tournament until new rules were put in place.


Seeming to be the precursor to modern football, the game is the source of much debate. Some believe the sport comes from a brutal game called harpastum, which was played by the Ancient Romans who established the colony of Florentia in 59 BC. Others contend that it was adapted from a game called sferomachia, played in Ancient Greece. Still others insist that it is a native Florentine sport that developed in the city’s streets and was later adopted by noblemen, who used it to settle disputes.

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