Just a few weeks before the long-anticipated World Cup is set to start in Russia, let’s take a brief look into when football first came to Korčula and who was the first person to get in trouble because of it.
Of course, we know, people have been hitting round soft(ish) objects with their feet as long as there have been round soft(ish) objects around, so it’s virtually impossible to say who the first person on the island of Korčula who had the idea to do such thing was. What we do know, however, is the story of a person who did it in 17th century and got in trouble because of it at his job, but let’s take it one step at a time.
The source for this story is a book by an English author, Sir Thomas Graham Jackson, one of the most distinguished architects of his time, a claim easily proven by the fact that he was chosen to be a chief architect of Oxford Military College and much of Hertford College (as well as many other buildings) at Oxford. In addition to actually designing buildings in his professional life, Jackson was an author of carefully researched works in architectural history, which he got the inspiration to write during his extensive travels, and some of his sketches created in Dalmatia are on display at the Museum of Split. One of his travels brought him to this part of the world, and his book “Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria” was published in 1887 in Oxford. During his travels through Dalmatia, he made a stop in Korčula as well (as one should, in 19th century, or today!), and in his book he writes:
“This little piazza and that in front of the duomo were the only two open spaces within the walls, and seem to have been the common lounge and play-ground of the citizens, who from the narrow area of the latter overflowed into the duomo itself, where they walked and talked in their ordinary tone of voice even during divine service, much to the disturbance of the clergy. The piazza was used by the citizens for games at ball, and it was here that early in the seventeenth century a future bishop of Curzola disported himself in a way that scandalized the canons (Farlati, Illyricum Sacrum). This was Jacopo Faganeo, a monk from Fiesole, not less renowned for his learning and eloquence than for his urbane and popular manners. The commander of the Venetian fleet in the Adriatic, in order to enjoy his company, persuaded him to go on a cruise, and when they were in port at Curzola his companions proposed a game at ball to relieve the tedium of the voyage. Jacopo willingly consented, and an adjournment was made to the Piazza del duomo, where Jacopo with his monk’s gown tucked up displayed a skill
and agility in receiving and returning the ball which won him enthusiastic applause from the admiring crowd of citizens. Lent was at hand, and it was proposed that the opportunity of hearing so renowned a preacher as Jacopo should not be lost, but the canons were scandalized by his performances in the piazza, and refused to admit him to their pulpit, little knowing that they were soon to receive as a bishop him whom they refused as a preacher. Yet so it was; the bishopric became vacant, and, at the instance of his friend the admiral, who had interest with Pope Urban VIII, Jacopo Faganeo was appointed bishop of Curzola in 1626. He deported himself with becoming dignity in his new position, and won golden opinions; but it may be gathered that he still preserved his old genial humour from the text which he inscribed on a pillar in his hall — “Lapidem quem reprobaverunt hic factus est in caput anguli” (which translates to English as “The stone that has been rejected, has become the cornerstone.”)
So, if you wanna watch all of the games in the upcoming World Cup, that’s OK, just try and make sure you don’t get in trouble with the people around you, and appear unprofessional. After all, this is not 17th century Korčula!