Italy stands ready to host as Musk talks up Zuckerberg rumble

ROME, (Reuters): Tesla boss Elon Musk said on Friday his planned cage fight with billionaire rival Mark Zuckerberg would be held at an “epic location” with an ancient Roman theme, as Italy indicated it was ready to stage the scrap.

Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said in a statement that he had spoken to Musk about hosting a “large charitable and historically evocative event”.

He did not specify what the event would be, or when it might be held, saying only that it would not take place in Rome.

Read More: Mark Zuckerberg claims Elon Musk isn’t serious about cage fight

Opposition politicians denounced his willingness to let the social media and tech moguls fight it out in Italy.

“I find it simply mind-boggling that the Italian cultural heritage is being made available to two billionaires who want to indulge themselves like foolish teenagers,” said Carlo Calenda, a former industry minister and head of Azione party.

“There are things that simply are not for sale. One of these is the dignity and history of a great nation,” he said.

Musk and Zuckerberg have been egging each other into a mixed martial arts (MMA) cage match since June.

At one point, Musk said Rome’s ancient Colosseum would host the fight, but Italy ruled that out. However, the owner of media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, said on Friday that the clash would nonetheless have an ancient Roman theme.

“Everything in camera frame will be ancient Rome, so nothing modern at all. I spoke to the PM of Italy and Minister of Culture. They have agreed on an epic location,” the Tesla CEO (TSLA.O) said in a post on X.

Sangiuliano said on Friday that any event would respect and safeguard Italy’s heritage sites.

“It will not take place in Rome. Above all, a substantial amount, many million euros, is expected to be donated to two important Italian paediatric hospitals for strengthening facilities and scientific research to combat children’s diseases,” he said in a statement.

“It will also be an opportunity to promote globally our history and archaeological, artistic and cultural heritage,” he added.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper suggested that if the fight happened, it might be staged in Pompeii, near Naples.

Musk threw down the gauntlet to Zuckerberg in a June 20 post, saying he was “up for a cage match” with his business rival, who is trained in jiujitsu.

A day later, Zuckerberg, who has posted pictures of matches he has won on his company’s Instagram platform, asked Musk to “send location” for the proposed throwdown.

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