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!