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I am trying to recall the name of a sport with the following details:

  1. The match I saw was between two Italian sides and I believe it had an Italian name.
  2. It is similar to football, although I believe the hands were used also.
  3. It was played on a sandy surface in an enclosed pitch (waist-level fencing).
  4. The game was very violent and bloody, with punching and kicking opponents allowed.
  5. It's not the Fighting Football League.
  6. It seemed perhaps to be steeped in historical tradition.
  7. It may only be contested between two cities/teams.

Thanks in advance!

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

This sounds like Calcio Fiorentino

Just like Roman harpastum, it was played in teams of 27, using both feet and hands. Goals could be scored by throwing the ball over a designated spot on the perimeter of the field. The playing field is a giant sand pit with a goal running the width of each end. There is a main referee, six linesmen and a field master. Each game is played out for 50 minutes with the winner being the team with the most points or 'cacce'.

The modern version allows tactics such as head-butting, punching, elbowing, and choking, but forbids sucker punching and kicks to the head.[5]

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That is exactly it, thank you! Did you know of it previously or did you research it? I couldn't get a google result at all! – Ste May 28 '12 at 13:17
I was googling for lists of sports in Italy and found one called "sferistici." Googling for that lead me to a Yahoo Answer about Italian sports in the 1500's which included a link to Calcio Fiorentino. – Jacob G May 28 '12 at 13:19
Great, thanks. I hadn't seen that. – Ste May 28 '12 at 13:24

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