The first episode of the new ‘Home Game’ series featured the ancient tradition that is still played in 1500s costumes

The new Netflix‘s series of documentaries about sports from different areas of the world took off with the Florentine Historical Football. The violent  mix between soccer, rugby, wrestling, and street fighting was the protagonist of the first episode. And it was a hit.

In just 2 weeks, 1.5 million people around the world watched the oldest and most loved game in Florence.

A great success, particularly in the US, Japan, and, obviously, Italy. Here, especially in Florence, Historical Football it’s not only a sport. It’s a century-old tradition that still represents the pride and the history of the city. Indeed, it holds a traditional value difficult to understand for those who are not from Florence.

The game has ancient origins. A similar game, called harpastum, was played by legionaries in ancient Rometo keep fit and ready for the battle. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, in Florence, people kept on playing it throughout the middle-ages. During the Renaissance, it became so popular that even Lorenzo the Magnificent used to play it. The present historic football tournament commemorates the famous match that took place on February 17th, 1530, in defiance of the imperial troops of Charles V, as Florence was under siege. For this reason, since 1930, players wear costumes true to those commonly worn in the 1500s.

Today, Florentine Historical Football is a three games tournament involving four teams on for each historical district of the city.  The two semi-finals are played every year on the second or third weekend of June. While the final always takes place on June 24th, Saint John the Baptist day, the patron saint of Florence. In each game, two teams consisting of 27 try to score a goal (caccia) throwing the ball in the opponent’s net, the ball is passed with both hands and feet. In midfield, fights and rucks are common ways to stop opponent players. When a player is injured or expelled no substitution is provided. Also, the players are not paid  and don’t receive any prize in case of victory.

Ilona Catani Scarlett

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