Monday, July 10, 2006

Zidane wins Golden Ball, but what did Marco Materazzi say to him?

Zinedine Zidane very much deserved the World Cup Golden Ball as he was the player everyone was talking about during the last two weeks. He is the reason France was ever playing on Sunday. Yet this award does not stop the question have what happened out on the pitch that cause a player like Zidane to go mad?

Not that it matters in terms of the outcome, but two different sources are reporting two different comments.

Reuters UK reports, "France captain Zinedine Zidane was apparently called a "dirty terrorist" by Marco Materazzi before he head-butted the Italy defender in Sunday's World Cup final, the anti-racism group SOS Racism said on Monday."

But Channel NewsAsia says it was something else. "Although neither player has yet revealed the nature of their disagreement, Fantastico, a programme on Globo, employed lip-reading experts who said footage of the incident showed the Italian twice insulted Zidane's sister.

The programme claimed Materazzi made the same comment twice before then using a "coarse word" at the French player. "

Materazzi's agent has jumped to his clients defense saying, "I've known Marco for a long time and I don't think he is capable of provoking a player, he is a good boy."

French television is reporting that Zidane will talk about it in the coming days.

For Materazzi, if he was saying things about Zidane's sister, that is dirty, but it's about what you would expect at the higher end of competition in any sport. However, if he called him a "dirty terrorist" then it makes Materazzi a grade-A asshole and a racist.

There is a line, and if Materazzi said such a thing, he more then crossed it.

A bit of history for those who might not know. Zidane is the son of Algerian immigrants. Some people suspect that Algerian Islamists played a role in the March 11, 2004, terrorist attacks in Spain as well as other terrorist activities. If this is true or not, I don't know, but one thing I do know, Zidane had nothing to do with these attacks. I feel safe in saying that he was probably disgusted and saddened by what happened like the rest of us.

If Materazzi tired to tie Zidane to this scum and if it can be proved in some way (a long shot at best), then Materazzi should never play another international game again.

At the start of every World Cup match, there was a large canvas circle at the center of the pitch that spoke out against racism. If Materazzi used racism on that very pitch, then he stands against everything FIFA said they were trying to accomplish. If FIFA is serious about this, they need to investigate.

All that said, I think it is to soon to condemn Materazzi. We have not heard anything from either of them, much less actually looked into any claims that might be made.

Still, I find it hard that Zidane had never been taunted by the old 'your sister is a whore' line before (heck I got it back when I was playing in 6th grade), so I don't believe that he would go crazy over that. However if you make a racist statement at someone that degrades them and their ancestry, I could see that getting to anyone.

Zidane still should have respected the rules of the game and not done the head to the chest routine, but if this is true, it would make a bit more sense.

Update: Materazzi denies calling him a terrorist saying, "It is absolutely not true, I did not call him a terrorist. I'm ignorant. I don't even know what the word means."

If this statement is true, and Materazzi doesn't know what a terrorist is, one must wonder, in what world is he living? Either that or he is no a very bright man.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Nuno (from Lisbon) said...

Very interesting. The terrorist acusation could do the trick.
Could be a trigger...

1:53 PM  
Blogger Robert Barnes said...

I enjoyed your coverage of the Cup.

Just returned from Germany to take in the final festivities in the States, from a World Cup promising to end the racism of old Europe, located in the nation that has done as much as any to come to terms with its racial past in Europe's ugliest racial hour. So, it is with irony and sadness, that a team may snag the World Cup trophy with the aid of the same racism FIFA promised to "end" at this world cup, if the stories and whispers are true that Italian defender Matterrazi used racial slurs and racial taunts to provoke the infamous temper and only known soccer vice of the world's most virtuoso master of the beautiful game, Zidane. It will be particular irony if Zidane, the victim of the language of violence and the history it trolls with it, suffers alone while the soccer world celebrates Matterrazi and his Azzuri.

If FIFA was sincere in its effort to awaken old Europe from its recent resuscitation of racism as a competitive tool in what we want to be the beautiful sport without preference to color, then it would endanger the Italian victory and hold it in abeyance pending inquiry, and if proven true, revoke the Cup from its wrongful winners, a drastic remedy proportionate to the vice. That alone would send the message needed, but waiting for it is about as likely to arrive as New World peace and prosperity to the former black and beige hued colonies of Old Europe. While the immigrants labor harvesting the fruits and foodstuffs for our plates, then cleaning up the trash and the sewers from our wastes, a taunt of the most famous son of Algerian immigrants to ever don a uniform of Old Europe triggers the rage witnessed a year before in the outskirts of Old Europe's cultural capital, Paris.

In the Finale, Zidane reminded us, despite whatever recognition received and status achieved, he, no more than youths of yesteryear's Parisian riots, has not forgot his roots as the son of worling class Algierian immigrants in the immigrant enclaves of Marseilles, and the old injuries that lie there, nestled in the Algerian outposts, Marsesilles suburbs, and rhetoric of men like Le Pen; and the Italians remind us that exploiting these edges remains as true today as it ever was, evidencing what despair for victory will contort the soul to achieve the golden trophy. History escapes no one, not even the quiet, calmed exterior of Zizou, nor the accalimed adoration for Zidane by the Italian side that would so easily resort to racial taunts to achieve some edge.

FIFA promises ring hollow, its most celebratory moment to be despoiled in a host nation that knows the pain of imbibing racial hatred, as the world watches on and, of course, blames the son of immigrants and his temper as the "problem."

Regards,

Robert Barnes

2:12 PM  
Blogger Mike H said...

Robert,

That was a wonderful comment. Thank you for taking the time to share it with me and anyone else who might read this blog.

Mike H

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike H,

Whether he is called a dirty terrorist, or the brother of a whore...or whatever other bullshit is reported, he does not have the right to assault someone on soccer field.

Zidane went out like what he is...a punk!

When someone mentions Diego Maradona, the first thing most people think of is a positive drug test in 1994.
When someone mentions OJ Simpson, the first thing most people think of is a piece of shit that got away with murder.
Hopefully history will look at Zidane in the same light.

I can't believe that you mentioned that FIFA should investigate - and better yet...Materazzi should never play another international game again.
FIFA should investigate their officials for some of the calls that were made during the World Cup. FIFA is a joke, they award Zidane a cup instead of handcuffs.
If you want to investigate RACISM or a plain bunch of fuckin ASSHOLES...then interview Team Saudi Arabia and Team Iran...and just ask them their opinions of Jews, women, or ANYTHING that contradicts their beliefs. <--based on these answers, then tell them they could never play internationally...then go into hiding for the rest of your life.


THE ISSUES AT HAND...

Someone said "words" --- just like you + me on this forum...or Salman Rushdie in a book.
Someone commits a violent act as a result of it.
Someone else tries to justify this behavior and acts like the victim.

Just my opinion.


TonyC NYC

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Lemi4 aka. fERDI:) said...

To TonyC:

So what if Zidane's a punk?
So what if I am myself?
So what if you yourself are too?

So why don't you come over to my corner and call me a punk to my face, you punk-ass troll? I'll be glad to punk your bitchy little ass, motherfucker.

I await your candid response. But of course we all civilized folks would know what response would be proper. After all, these are but merely words ;)

Oh, and I totally agree with you, TonyC; we all need to grow up a little. Being punk-rock and getting totally medieval over a rise is sooo totally uncool :))

And Mike H, great coverage :)

Lemi4 from Jakarta

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

:)

Actually - I was a little heated when I wrote this.

I have hit people for less than that...call me punk and hypocrite or hot-headed Italian-American! :)

TonyC NYC

3:33 PM  
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