Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

Everyone in France is talking about Zinédine Zidane, and "the headbutt affair"--an incident during the last game of the World Cup of Soccer (Football), in which Zidane headbutted an Italian player, effectively ending his own career. He was redcarded, and this was his last game before he retired from the sport, so he ended his career on a bit of a low note.

Although the Italian player spoke up, the French were not eager to believe his story, insisting that it must have been something "très grave", because Zidane is known for his calm approach and his rational outlook on life. Whispers of insults against his family, speculations of racial slurs, and professional lip readers all vied for attention, and the lunch tables buzzed while everyone tried to figure out just what happened.

Tonight, on French television, Zidane spoke up about the incident. Though he apologized for his behavior because of the children and adults who look up to him, he insisted that he would do the same again, because the remarks were "very, very tough" and did concern his mother and sister, despite the Italian player insisting he had not insulted them. Zidane refused to name the actual insults, saying he didn't think it was appropriate for the children of France, his own included, to know exactly what was said, but he wanted to clarify that the insults were very nasty, that they were repeated three times (he attempted to walk away, but the other player persisted), and that he hadn't made the arrogant comment attributed to him by Materazzi. He expressed a wish for an investigation, and punishment for the provoking party, Materazzi.

In addition, Zidane told of his own shock when he heard of some talk by an Italian politician, who chose this time to make more racial slurs against footballers (see IHT article, linked below). Zidane was born in France, is a French citizen, and has a French family. His own parents were immigrants from Algeria, which sparked many rumors about the possible nature of the offensive remarks. Zidane has been the target of racial slurs throughout his football career.

After watching the interview, both Dr. B and I were impressed with Zidane's professionalism, apparent honesty and maturity. Reading the summation article doesn't really capture his reaction--choosing the sound bites that are the most weighty, and downplaying his calm, thoughtful responses. We both wonder if the story is being changed, as it travels across the ocean and through the mouths of interpreters, spin doctors and talking heads. It will be interesting to find out from the home front whether or not this is an important issue, and if it sparks debate or interest in the state of affairs on the other side of the globe. Immigration issues and racism are not limited to one country, unfortunately.

(You can read an English version of the article, which has some quotations from Zidane, here. If you can understand French, please do watch the complete video. For another perspective and more history on Zidane and the issues brought up during this incident, read the International Herald Tribune article here.)



At 6:55 PM, July 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We here in the US have heard it all and seen the interview done by the French tv. You cannot tell me that things like this have not been said to a lot of the players along their years of play. Any sport has this kind of thing...I am not saying this is proper behavior however. I am just saying that he should have turned and walked away from it. What a sad way to end your career and be remembered, especially for someone so talented. Say what you will, HE is the only one responsible for his actions. Something a lot of young people seem to forget....that with every action or decision, there comes a responsibility for such decision and action.
The night time comics such as Leno and Lettermen have had a hayday with all this....."the headbutt heard round the world!"
To me it doesn't matter to me what the other player said....he made the wrong choice and now must take responsibility for his actions. He is after all an adult. B

At 8:15 PM, July 12, 2006, Blogger Chelee said...

I've been following this on the BBC and at the time it occured I was in shock. Now after some clarification, I can understand the acting out.

Still sad he had to leave that way.

At 3:05 AM, July 13, 2006, Blogger La Rêveuse said...

B--Yes he did take responsibility for his actions and apologized for them, but he also paid for it. His career ended this way, and he accepted the judgement and said he would accept the things as they were, and didn't expect any replay of the game, etc. Materazzi got off, despite his bad sportsmanship. Zidane has a point, and situations like this should be looked into further. You can say a headbutt was the wrong thing to do and one should always turn the other cheek, but this is a difficult argument to make when you weren't there, and it's not your call. Switzerland turned the other cheek in the 1930's when Adolf Hitler was murdering millions. Was that the right thing to do?

He took responsibility. He accepted the consequences. He defended his actions. That was his call to make. He made it as an adult, and chose the high road afterwards, by not publicizing the comments made. There are a lot of adults that make a lot worse decisions in this world--I'll leave it to him to judge. I wasn't there.

At 3:08 AM, July 13, 2006, Blogger ViVi said...

Really, B? How many times can you hear that your mother is a bitch and your sister is a whore before you feel compelled to do something about it? He's human, and name calling and insults certainly do not fall under FIFA's "Fair Play" banner. He received his just punishment; where is the punishment for the Italian for provoking him? Yes, it was a terrible way to end his career but walk a mile in his shoes before you condemn him.

Thanks for posting a link to the video Ronica, we missed it last night. :)

At 9:20 AM, July 13, 2006, Blogger ~steph~ said...

you can not possibly be comparing WWII/Adolph Hitler to a soccer game? A bit dramatic. Point is that all "professional" sports players who get paid oodles of money should be acting like adults ... would it be ok for me to head butt a coworker if they called me a name. Um, no. There are more rational and responsible ways of handling yourself. *especially in front of millions of fans incl children.

At 9:39 AM, July 13, 2006, Blogger rondi said...

Zizou is "known for his calm approach and his rational outlook?"
Really? Among other things, in 2000, while at Juventus, he head-butted Hamburg's Jochen Kientz and got a five-match suspension. And at the 1998 World Cup in France he stamped on Saudi Arabia captain Faoud Amin, also apparently after an insult.
Verbal attacks are a part of football -- like it or not. What should never be accepted or mitigated or justified, are actions like Zizou's idiotic headbutt. It's a shame he went out on that note, because he was a beautiful player.

At 10:31 AM, July 13, 2006, Blogger La Rêveuse said...

I am new here, just repeating what I hear around me--Zidane may have a temper, most people that run around all day with the adrenaline and testosterone flowing do. Perhaps he should not have acted out, but my point is that it is NOT MY PLACE TO JUDGE. It was his. He did. He apologized, and asked for an inquiry. This is fact.

As for my analogy, it may be a strong reference, and of course this situation is not grave such as that, but I think it did make the point that there are some offenses that are too grave to ignore. The Swiss decision is still controversial here in Europe, as well as their profiting from stolen Jewish artwork and assets. I apologize if you think I made a direct comparison; it was not meant to be that. Just an analogy.

Once again, it was Zidane's decision, NOT MINE, and all I said was that I will not judge him on that, but I appreciate his statements after, and how he has handled it since the incident happened.

Period. End of statement.

At 2:05 PM, July 14, 2006, Anonymous Irene said...

I just don't understand. I really don't.

when did insulting and making racist comments become more acceptable than a headbutt? what Zidane did is wrong. what Materazzi did is equally wrong.

At 5:03 PM, July 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Irene-How do we know for sure what was said between the two players??? The British press is said to have had an Italian lip reader--who really knows????? And when was it wrong to give an opinion (NOT judgement) on a situation. Apparently only when one does not agree with others, I guess. Me thinks it is much ado about NOTHING!!

At 5:25 PM, July 17, 2006, Blogger La Rêveuse said...

Thanks for that courageous post, "Anonymous." At least Irene gave her name. Besides, what she said is "heabutting : wrong, Insulting Others : wrong." She did not make a judgement on anyone who commented here. She left that up to me. (O: Please get your comments straight before you post.

And next time, give us a name.


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