FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters)
Already bored of the soccer World Cup with its single ball, earth-bound players and tiresome reliance on the laws of physics?
More than 6,000 km away from Moscow, in the Italian city of Florence, the United States swept to victory on Sunday in a much more magical contest – the Quidditch World Cup, based on the game dreamt up in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
More than 800 players from as far afield as Iceland and Hong Kong took part in the tournament – the largest yet staged in the muggle universe.
In the real-life game, two teams of seven players run around with broomsticks between their legs and engage in a full-contact, co-ed contest with elements of rugby, dodgeball and wrestling.
In the early rounds it was favorites USA and Australia who set the pace in the groups stages, played in sweltering temperatures. In the first semi-finals USA beat Britain for a place in the final for the fourth time. Belgium became first-time finalists after beating Turkey.
The USA won the match 120 to 70, after Harry Greenhouse grabbed the ‘snitch’ within minutes of it coming onto the field, tied to the back of another player.
The first World Cup was held in Oxford in England back in 2012, when the USA took top honors. The team took the title again in 2014, but Australia caught the snitch to snatch victory two years ago in Frankfurt, Germany.
(Editing by Andrew Heavens)