Granted, I'm not totally up to par on my soccer knowledge, though I did make a concerted attempt to watch some of the games and learned a lot in the process. My son, who soaked the FIFA World Cup up like a desert does water AND like every other sport that catches his eye, sat with me during many of the penalty kick excitement and explained some of the rules behind adding time to the clock when the clock ran out, what the different flags mean, etc etc. He also informed me early on in the matches that the guy to watch was a French player named Zidane, or Zizou to his myriad of fans.
Zidane is often considered to be one of the best footballers of his generation and one of the greatest of all time. A midfielder, he is known for his elegant dribbling, passing ability, shot accuracy, shot selection, control. His abilities have made him one of the game's finest players of his era. The Wayne Gretzky of soccer, with a John McInroe temper, perhaps?
So here he is in the last game of his career with the World Cup trophy up for grabs. The game is tied 1-1 and a nasty player named Materazzi from the opposing team hurls an insult at him that supposedly was so daringly despicable, that Zizou completely loses his focus, his cool and his restraint and whacks the player with his head. Thump!
Turns out, Materazzi struck the lowest verbal blow and called Zizou’s momma a bad name.
Excuse me, but aren’t a bunch of awful insults and threats bandied about during a sports match? Do you think a baseball Catcher in the last game of the World Series isn’t going to try his very best to bug the shit out of the Batter? Didn’t we all learn how to do that in little league? Unnerve your opponent! Psych em out!
The substance of the argument remained debated for a few days after the match. Newspapers had lip readers for goodness sake try to interpret what Materazzi had said. They came up with different interpretations, ranging from racist remarks concerning Zidane himself to obscene and insulting comments about the women in his life. I even read somewhere that an Australian lip reading expert was convinced Materazzi yelled something about a hamster. Ooooo that would unnerve even me!
Materazzi finally this week admitted that he did insult Zidane, but stressed that the insults were similar to the insults hurled out all the time………..the run of the mill trash talk that most often goes unnoticed He insisted that the insult was not racist in nature, nor did it involve Zidane's mother.
Zizou, winner of the Golden Ball award for best sportsman, retatliated by apologizing to the kiddies of France who have all been scarred over the incident (Gee, think of the post traumatic stress disorder epidemic if they had witnessed the baring of Janet Jackson’s breast……….too horrible to contemplate, really) and then stating that he didn’t regret his actions because if he did then that would mean that his opponent was right to say what he did.
Well, we’ll see Zizou. Right now, your country forgives you, your President applauds your passion, and your sponsors are sticking with you. We’ll see. Poor sports don’t win in the end. What a shame that this giant of the sports world will be known for time and eternity as a hotheaded head butting golden baller, and not for the monumental achievements on the field. He will be the butt of jokes for years to come as his name will become synonymous with selfishness in a team sport.