Football: a gentleman's game played by hooligans. Gladiator Football: a Florentine game played by the sort of gentlemen you want at your back if things get dicey in a pub. Even Popes are supposed to have bloodied their noses on its sand-covered pitch. Now, this little-known historic spectacle is the subject of a bruising new advert by Canon.
Calcio fiorentino, an early form of football played in Italy since the 16th century, is a viscous mix of football, rugby and mixed combat. The official rules of the game were published by the Florentine count Giovanni de Bardi in 1580, describing a sport which saw teams of 27 men use both feet and hands to pass a ball into one of two opposing goals that ran along the back wall of a court of narrow sand. Fifty minutes, most goals win, with missed goals earning the opposite team half a point. Beyond that - anything goes (apart from sucker punches and kicks to the head - they're not thugs). And the prize? Not some claret jug, but the far more practical 'prize cow'.
Canon's ad, filmed by Jonathan Glazer (Under the Skin, Sexy Beast), uses the group's top of the range cameras to get up close and intimate with the modern revival of the game: played annually in Florence in the third week of June, the tournament sees teams from each quarter of the city clash in the beautiful Piazza Santa Croce.
What we'd give to see a team of Premiership players get squashed in one of these matches. Prepare to wince as you watch the ad below.