So the entire free world and parts of China were of course abuzz today about the ramifications of the legend Zinadine Zidane’s bizarre headbutt on Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final on Sunday. Much has been made by sports commentators whose only notions of soccer are Pele, Mia Hamm and Will Ferrell in “Kicking and Screaming” that Zidane’s action was one of the worst in the history of sports.
Ah, but now dear friend, like Paul Harvey we are learning the “rest of the story.” First, the receiver of the headbutt, Materazzi, is apparently a world class thug, known throughout the soccer world for his dirty tactics as part of his club team, Lazio. This video showcases some of Materazzi’s tactics and illustrates a player who has the qualities necessary to play for John Cheney. With this supposed reputation (which was never mentioned on the US broadcast), some of the action may be explained.
But then came the big news of today that Zidane’s agent is saying that Materazzi called Zidane a “terrorist” due to his Algerian heritage. Apparently when Zidane heard this comment he freaked and went all Mike Tyson in the waning minutes. I must admit that if this is true (which it may or may not be), it only makes the situation even more bizarre. I mean for all the patronizing lecturing that Europeans give Americans about our culture, terrible acts are tolerated there that never would be here. I mean can you imagine if Dirk Nowitski had said a racial slur to Dewayne Wade in the NBA finals…..he would never be forgiven. But in Europe, this is considered “gamesmanship” and a way to help your team succeed.
Either way, the news of today gives me some happiness. I dont know if it is because of his premature balding, the alliterative quality of his name or his amazing skill, but I want to like Zinadine Zidane. To paraphrase Chris Rock, if the comment made by Materazzi was what is being reported, then I am not saying he should have headbutted him….but I understand.