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Calcio Storico Fiorentino, an ancient and brutal form of football, was first played in the 1500s by the Italian aristocracy. Today, teams in Florence continue to play the game, which allows punching, elbowing, and the use of martial arts techniques. Simone Mafara, a Santa Croce team member says: “My mother has never come to the square, nor my wife, daughter or father… If I knew that my mother was suffering in the stands, watching her son getting wounded, and wounding other opponents, it would kill me.”

The Calcio Storico finals will be held June 24. See more on Vocativ.

Photo by David Ramos/Reportage by Getty Images

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Teams of 27 wrestle, punch, kick, scrap as they get a ball from one end of the field to the other - Calcio Storico, Italy