Zidane’s Headbutt Sinks France

France’s Zinedine Zidane looks on after headbutting
Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the chest. (AP)

IN one of the most exciting World Cup finals that I have seen in my lifetime, Zinedine Zidane managed to sink France’s chances of winning the tournament for the first time since 1998 when he violently and deliberately headbutted Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the chest, knocking him to the ground in pain on Sunday night. Zidane was then red-carded by the Argentine referee, stalking off the pitch in a huff.

I watched the game with two fellow bloggers, Dotsson and Abu Miftah, at a sports café in Jeddah. We each paid SR10 ($2.60) for the pleasure of watching it on a huge screen with a crowd of around fifty rowdy Saudi fans. The France supporters were sitting in front of us, while the Italian supporters sat near the back. (Click here to read The Guardian’s Rob Smyth’s online blow by blow commentary on the match)
“What did Materazzi say to Zidane?” asked a puzzled Dotsson. (Click here to read what other bloggers think.)

“It must have been something racist,” said Abu Miftah. After a little search on the Internet I found this video on YouTube showing what happened from two slightly different angles. The first video is from the French TF1 network:

while the second one is from what I presume to be a Chinese network:

The Chinese one shows more clearly what happened: It seems that Materazzi tweaked Zidane’s nipple and was saying something unpleasant to him before the incident. It’s just too bad that Zindane couldn’t save his anger for later and had to attack the Italian player, getting him ejected from the field and ruining France’s chances of winning the Cup.

I was rooting for France and they didn’t disappoint. They played consistently better than the Italians, and were constantly on the attack, leaving the Italians on the defense throughout the game. The Italian players kept on diving and acting injured, which was extremely tiring. As Abu Mifteh said, “they’re such drama queens!”

Not only drama queens but hair queens. If there is a team that seemed overly in love with its hair it was the Italian one. In the end, they only won because of the penalty shoot-out in which the French goalie Barthez is notoriously bad at.

And I don’t have to tell you how inherently unfair penalty shootouts are, and how much they are based on luck rather than on skill or stamina. Let’s see what Zidane says in the coming days about his headbutting. It seems an awfully silly way to end such a stellar career.

Zizou, we’re going to miss you!

Comments (13)


    That is why the French will always suck….Go Italy!

  • J-A-S

    I was amazed by the headbutt. It just seemed so barbaric. I mean, I really have no idea what they were even arguing about, but, come on, a headbutt????
    There are other ways of fighting

  • Anonymous

    It was a really bad loss of temper. I can’t believe Zidane couldn’t control himself. Makes you wonder what the Italian told him. The Italians and the Portugese both played like such whiners. If someone walked within arm’s lenghth of them they would flop on the ground and flail around like they’d been beaten. Very lame.
    France really did deserve to win, but oh well.
    I am just really shocked that Zidane couldn’t keep it together out there.
    Like your blog, by the way!

  • andychilton

    I agree with you about it being a silly way to end an amazing career. The headbutt aside, I think football will miss him – though it’s fairly bizarre what he did and I’m still shocked.

  • tax

    You surely must be mistaken: it is Italy who last won in 1982… France won in 1994 or 98, that means just 2 or three editions back. The Italians have been waiting 24 years!

  • ruennsheng

    Zizou had been innocent.

    Italy won WC rightfully but Zizou is a more worthwhile winner of Golden Ball. That’s because Zizou won’t bang onto others out of nothing. He is sure to be instigated. Please look at the video carefully.

  • AngloLibyan

    his mother was insulted by the Italian player, while this is not an excuse for what he did but his mother was taken seriously ill to hospital on the same day of the final

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  • Rasheed's World

    You’re right tax, I meant France last won the Cup in 1998, not Italy. Italy last won it in 1982.

  • noon2noon

    Whether it’s an aggressive side to Zidane or a huge provocation .. he’s still a great player who came out of it looking like a better man than the guy he head-butted. Actually if you think about it there’s something very male and virile about a head-butt!! Reminds me of those stags you see fighting on Discovery channel programs! Anyway .. I am just happy that no one was hurt .. head-butt to the chest could be really dangerous, his heart could have stopped beating. Thank God for that.

  • Edward Ott

    after watching the Italians play my Mother noted that her mother’s family,my granmother, were sicilian not Italian. she could not stand how italy played.

  • Aday

    hi! Zizou didn’t understand what he did, what million of children thought in that moment..Italia is the best playing like only italians can play..and football is a game, and the team with more goals win, so italia is a good champion.
    I like your blog!

  • Francesco Visconti

    I’m gonna miss Zizou as well. And I do think all this stuff give back football to reality. It’s not like a yankee movie. Everyone who has played football in his life knows this things always happen.
    No matter if you’re playing a world cup’s final or a match in a clay court in your neighbourhood.
    But not everyone played footbal in his life; these people prefer to talk about dramas, acting and other beautiful things that are no way football…

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