Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The World Cup

I like that he apologized especially to the children, but not to all the people who were kept up all night listening to all the car horns! Seriously though, I've been puzzling over this incident for days. What in the world could you possibly say to someone that would be so bad that it would be worth getting yourself a red card in such an important game? Personally, I was working on a theory involving 'the fingerbone.' But, I guess, it was just a verbal insult.

Zidane: 'I apologize to all the children'
Jul. 12, 2006. 04:19 PM

PARIS — French soccer star Zinedine Zidane apologized for brutally head-butting an Italian opponent in the World Cup final, saying Wednesday that he had been taunted with harsh insults about his mother and sister.

Zidane repeatedly apologized to fans — especially to children — in his highly awaited first comments since Sunday’s match. But he said he didn’t regret the abrupt, violent outburst that marked the end of his 18-year professional career.

“I tell myself that if things happened this way, it’s because somewhere up there it was decided that way,” the 34-year-old midfielder said in an interview on TF1 television. “And I don’t regret anything that happened, I accept it.”

Zidane, soft-spoken and relaxed in two television interviews late Wednesday, did not explain exactly what Italian defender Marco Materazzi said that enraged him, but he said it was about his family.

“I would rather have taken a punch in the jaw than have heard that,” he told the Canal Plus channel, stressing that Materazzi’s language was “very harsh,” and that he repeated the insults several times.

Zidane and Materazzi exchanged words after Italy broke up a French attack in extra-time. Seconds later, Zidane lowered his head and rammed Materazzi in the chest, knocking him to the ground.

Zidane was sent off, reducing France to 10 men. Italy went on to win in a penalty shootout with Zidane — an excellent penalty-taker — in the locker-room.

The act of aggression marred the end of the World Cup, with many warning it would tarnish Zidane’s formidable legacy. Zidane retired after the tournament.

The France captain stressed that he felt no regret “because that would mean (Materazzi) was right to say all that.”

“There was a serious provocation,” said Zidane, who said he had never had tensions with Materazzi before.

“My act is not forgivable,” Zidane said. “But they must also punish the true guilty party, and the guilty party is the one who provokes.”

For days, sports fans around the world have been riveted by the question: What could Materazzi have said to set Zidane off in the last few moments of his career? Media from Brazil to Britain hired lip readers to try to figure it out, then came up with different answers.

Materazzi has acknowledged he insulted Zidane, without giving specifics. At nearly the same moment Zidane was on TV, excerpts from an interview that Materazzi gave were posted on an Italian paper’s website. He denied insulting Zidane’s mother.

“I didn’t say anything to him about racism, religion or politics,” Materazzi told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “I didn’t talk about his mother either. I lost my mother when I was 15 and even now I still get emotional talking about her.”

Zidane “has always been my hero,” Materazzi said. “I admire him a lot.”

Despite the head-butt, Zidane was awarded the Golden Ball award for best player at the World Cup — though FIFA president Sepp Blatter has suggested Zidane could be stripped of the honour.

“The winner of the award is not decided by FIFA, but by an international commission of journalists,” Blatter said in Italian newspaper La Repubblica. “That said, FIFA’s executive committee has the right, and the duty, to intervene when faced with behaviour contrary to the ethics of the sport.”

FIFA’s disciplinary committee opened an inquiry Tuesday into Zidane’s behaviour. His red card was not unusual: Zidane was sent off 14 times in his career at the club and international level.

Despite his temper, Zidane is better known for his sportsmanship and dancer-like style with the ball. He is a national hero for the French and a symbol of a young, multicultural France. Born to Algerian immigrants, Zidane grew up playing on concrete in an impoverished neighbourhood of Marseille.

President Jacques Chirac has had only kind words for Zidane since the match — reassuring him that France still “admires and loves him.” Many in France have already pardoned Zidane. A poll published Tuesday in Le Parisien newspaper showed that 61 per cent of the 802 people questioned forgave Zidane.

Zidane said many people have asked him not to retire, but he said he would not change his mind.

“I won’t go back on it, at least I hope so ... (the decision) it’s definitive,” he said.

Zidane told TF1 that he was “going to rest, and then move on to something else.”


Miss Ash said...

I didn't watch the game so I did not witness the headbutt. However, he's 34 and retired now....lucky duck.

paul said...

Jennifer said...

Great article Paul thanks. I don't see why people think that it was Zidane and not the Italian player who disgraced anything. If the Italians gave a shit about winning a game properly and sportsmanship, they would give the cup back, but it's quite obvious they don't.
I'll be so pissed if they take away his best player trophy.

Scott said...

I agree 100% that he should keep the trophy. I do however think that his reaction was totally out of line. It is a part of sports, especially at that level, that trash talking occurs. I am sure that they were both saying things to one another throughout the game and he was the one who made the decision to strike another player.

He should be honoured for stepping up and taking responsibility for it and apologizing to the kids. But... at the end of the day it was he who took it to the next level and it is inexcusable at that level to lost control over some words. I am sure that he has heard it all... look I am blogging on your blog... sorry about that.


Princess Pessimism said...

AHHH HAHAHAHA the fingerbone. Im thinking back to whether or not i saw any penetration. There was one moment when their bodies were touching...and the finger bone could have been definitely possible...but I didnt see it. Good theory though.

Jennifer said...

Welcome Scott, I love long comments!
PP, I also heard a theory that he pulled on Zidane's shoulder which had just been injured in that game, but my theory is more fun, and it makes the Italian player look like a perv.

Princess Pessimism said... for sure does make the italian player look like a perv. I enjoy that theory.....And I think we should just go with it...regardless of what actually happened. Lets just say thats what it was....Its funnier that way