There has been much written over the last few days about Zidane’s chest butt exit from the World Cup. I havent written anything because I have been so disgusted with the media and blogsophere’s general response about him being shamed and leaving in disgrace etc etc. For me there is no need for Zidane to feel any shame neither has he disgraced himself. Last night I was with a group of Senegalise friends and one of them had just come in from Paris. The story she said was that Materazzi had made a racist remark and insulted his mother. His team mate Trezeguet said the Italians had been trying to wind up Zidane since the start of the match. Maybe we will never know but FIFA and everyone else needs to focus on the racism on the pitch rather than condemn one of the world’s greatest footballers to football purgatory forever – but that would be too easy – FIFA, the British and French media do not want to face the truth. The Spanish coach, Luis AragonÃ©s calls Thierry Henry ” A black shit” and gets a measly fine of 3000 euros! Why wasnt he sent off in disgrace and shamed forever? Because racism is OK but chest butts – well you really overstepped the mark there!
There is racism on the terraces, on the pitch and in the streets. STOP PRETENDING IT ISNT THERE and as Jay Sennett (
who I didnt even know was a football fan) writes – hate speech is violence.
At to that the persistent racist behavior that is very much tolerated by FIFA and you get a Zinedine Zidane of France headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest at the 110 minute of the game (read: second overtime).
The head butt was not a result of ball play but from what appeared to be comments made by Materazzi to Zidane. Zidane is one of the very best players in the world and has claimed he would retire after this World Cup final.
Despite being ejected from the game, I thought Zidane must have been provoked to lose his icy cool. Leave it to the Times of London to engage the services of an expert lip reader and translator to claim then that Materazzi
called Zidane “the son of a terrorist whore” before adding “so just f*** off” for good measure, supporting the natural assumption that the Frenchman must have been grievously insulted.
The son of a terrorist whore.
As the son of two Algerian immigrants, the 34-year-old is proud of his North African roots, dedicating France’s 1998 World Cup win to “all Algerians who are proud of their flag and all those who have made sacrifices for their family but who have never abandoned their own culture”, so such a slur would certainly explain, if not justify, his violent response.
Nevermind that Materazzi’s denies the allegations and points to his friendship with Obafemi Martins, the Nigeria and Inter Milan striker, to prove he isn’t racist. Nevermind that he claims he is uncultured and doesn’t even know what an “Islamic terrorist” is.
What I find very common and indicative of the way hate functions around the world is that Materrazi’s words are not seen as violent, too. Jock-asses worldwide spew garbage and aren’t ejected from the game. Zidane is though, because physicality is, you know, violent.
Words are just supposed to be words, you know, sticks and stones.
But words can hit just as hard as a fist. Until we acknowledge globally that what we say about or to someone can devastate them as much as a fist, then I don’t know if we will ever get out of this self-generated turmoil we’re in right now…………………How about ejecting the Materazzis from the game. How about telling the one of critics who claim Zidane put his feelings ahead of his team, thereby breaking the cardinal rule of sports, well what if Matrrazzi had punched Zidane in the heart?
Would his head-butt be more understandable then? Acceptable?
I sound like I’m arguing for violence. I’m not. What I am arguing for is a greater acknowledgement that language is violent and used to wreck havoc in the listener.
Thanks Jay – an excellent post.