A 15-foot-tall statue of Zinedine Zidane head-butting Marco Materazzi by sculptor Adel Abdessemed has been placed in the courtyard of the Pompidou Center in Paris.
The statue, entitled “Headbutt,” is by the Algerian sculptor Adel Abdessemed, and coincides with an exhibition of his work in the museum. “This statue goes against the tradition of making statues to honor victories,” said Phillipe Alain Michaud, who directed the exhibition. “It is an ode to defeat… Zidane’s downward glance recalls that of Adam, chased from paradise.”
But as Michaud knows, and surely as Abdessemed intends, it is both not so simple and much simpler. It is an ode to more than defeat; but it’s also a representation of very basic feelings complicated by literary analogy. The Headbutt was full of anger, stupidity, and recklessness, but beneath them lay a damaged sense of honor. This makes it hard for even the calmest football fan to wholly begrudge Zidane his actions.
Dan Hill, who coincidentally is the director of web and broadcast at the aforementioned Monocle, has a thoughtful post about Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, a documentary film that follows Zinedine Zidane through an entire soccer match.
Yet another take on the Zidane headbutt, this time from Dany Laferriere (translated by Rana Dasgupta). “I don’t believe that the Italian player said to him anything that he couldn’t stand to hear. He simply felt that this was the moment. His last match, the finale of the World Cup, at the very end. It was now or never. Otherwise, he had sold himself for good.”
Zidane apologized for the headbutt incident, but doesn’t regret his actions. He said Materazzi insulted his family, “both his mother and sister”.
In an interesting twist, those watching the World Cup Final in the stadium didn’t see Zidane headbutt Materazzi: “As a result, tens of thousands of spectators, those actually watching the game in real life, had to resort to calling or texting friends, often in faraway places like the United States or Japan, to find out what was happening in Berlin. Why was Zidane, the resurgent French hero, walking with a bowed head from the field?”
The Daily Mail, with corroboration from the Times, has some information on what Marco Materazzi said to Zinedine Zidane to provoke the latter’s career ending headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final (more info on that here). They both hired lip readers to decipher Materazzi’s dialogue before the incident and this is allegedly what he said (translated from the Italian):
Hold on, wait, that one’s not for a nigger like you.
We all know you are the son of a terrorist whore.
So just fuck off.
So it might be fair to say that Materazzi got what he deserved, as did Zidane when he got sent off. Not that two wrongs make a right. Even so, I agree with these thoughts from That’s How It Happened:
[Zidane’s] willingness to headbutt Materazzi makes him more of a hero, not less. Admittedly, since France went on to lose, he’s something of a tragic hero, but a hero none-the-less. If someone insulted my race, or my religion (if I had one), I wish I’d be as ready to attack them, no matter what the circumstances. Zidane’s action highlights for the world the fact that the racial unity of France is more important than winning the World Cup.
If the lip reader is correct in what Materazzi said, I may like Zidane even more than I did before the match. (via wikipedia)
Update: Eurosport has a statement from Materazzi:
I held his shirt for a few seconds only, he turned to me, looked at me from top to bottom with utmost arrogance (and said): “if you really want my shirt, I’ll give it to you afterwards”. I answered him with an insult.
Update: Several UK newspapers enlisted lip readers to determine what Materazzi said and ended up with many different accounts. Lip reading + language translation = unreliable. (thx, luke)
Zidane won the Golden Ball award, awarded by journalists to the best player of the tournament. Most of the voting for the award came before halftime of the final. Miroslav Klose’s five goals gave him the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer.
Zidane’s agent says Zidane “told me Materazzi said something very serious to him but he wouldn’t tell me what”. “Zinedine didn’t want to talk about it but it will all come out in the next week. He was very disappointed and sad. He didn’t want it to end this way.”