Italy stands ready to host as Musk talks up Zuckerberg rumble

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s culture minister has talked to Tesla boss Elon Musk about organising an ancient Rome-themed charity event after the U.S. entrepreneur said his planned fight with Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg would have such a backdrop.

However, adding to the uncertainty around the potential clash of the tech giants, the minister said the event would not be held in the Italian capital and did not specify what form it would take or when it would be staged.

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

At one point, Musk said the fight would take place in Rome’s Colosseum, but Italy ruled that out. However, the owner of media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, said on Friday that the clash would 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 said in a post on X.

Shortly afterwards, Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano confirmed that he had spoken to Musk to discuss hosting a “large charitable and historically evocative event”, which would respect and safeguard 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, giving no further details about the planned event.

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.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante and Federico Maccioni; Writing by Crispian Balmer)