There’s more than one way to play the beautiful game, from Fireball in Indonesia to Elephant Football in Nepal. And when talking about things that are extreme, the name Xander Cage automatically springs to mind.
Here’s a look at seven of the most extreme versions of football from around the globe. Not even sure xXx himself would fancy any of these!
1. Fireball (Indonesia)
‘Sepak Bola Api’ is played in some parts of Indonesia as a celebration of Ramadan.
Much like your average Sunday league fare, two teams of eleven try to outscore each other. However, things heat up a little with with the introduction of a flaming coconut ball… oh, and you have to play barefoot.
Here’s a video from 90s Sunday morning staple Transworld Sport to explain more. Note the distinct lack of headers. Shocking.
2. Snow Football (Canada)
Never ones to let weather get in the way of their everyday plans, the Canadians in the below clip engage in a bit of a kick-around out on a frozen lake in Winnipeg, prior to the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Kind of puts a Monday night at the Britannia into perspective. Check out that fur ball!
3. Swamp Soccer (Finland)
Yeah he’s pretty good, but can he do it knee deep in a Finnish mud bath?
The sport of Swamp Soccer was the dirty dream of Scandi oddball Jyrki Väänänen and the championships have been going strong since 1998, in which 6-a-side teams play 10 minute halves in, well… a swamp.
This video from the World Championships in Finland shows the Swedes take home the Women’s trophy, while the hosts collect the men’s prize. You wouldn’t want to be the kit man for those teams.
4. Hill Football (Norway)
Another one from Scandinavia shows a nice, relaxing game of ankle-endangering Skråningsfotball, or ‘hill football’.
As referee Herman Borgman explains “penalties are taken with hockey rules the ball must lay still for free kicks”.
Ok, that should be easy enough then.
5. Calcio Storico (Italy)
The sport of Calcio Storico (Historic Football), which Italians claim as the true origin of modern football, dates back to 16th century Florence… and for some reason is still being played to this day.
The violent interpretation of the game has seen a modern revival in recent years and is played in Florence’s Piazza Santa Croce every June, when teams of 27 players line up on the sand for a bit of no-holds barred brutality.
No subs are allowed, but head-butting, punching, elbowing, and choking are all fair game. Who said the Italians were divers?
6. Elephant Football (Nepal)
The video below from Nepal shows nature’s largest land mammal taking to the field, with riders on their backs, for one of the more dangerous and controversial iterations of the world’s most popular sport.
As well as in Nepal, elephant football has also been played at regional festivals in Thailand since the 1960s, and despite popularity with locals and tourists, the games have come under attack (somewhat understandably) with allegations of animal cruelty.
Still, great touch for a big lad.
7. Bubble Football
Living inside a bubble is an accusation often levelled at the modern day footballer.
However, the sport of bubble or zorb football takes this concept rather literally and runs with it (or at least, tries to run with it before colliding with an opponent falling over and bouncing).
Think human dodgems with a ball in play; the idea was thought up in Norway and takes the form of a standard 5-a-side game of football with more contact.
Here’s Barcelona’s stars bringing their insurers nightmares to life, by trading tiki-taka for body slams.