Monday, July 10, 2006

Zidane-The end of an era

What a match it was! Both teams equally competitive in attacks and again both equally strong in defense. A fitting finale it was, atleast in my opinion. But then there was the incident that not only marred the match but also left a scar in the last of the battles of a great champion.

For those who missed the match, the match started with a lot of aggressive play from both the sides and the first goal of the match was scored by Zidane off a kind-of controversial penalty awarded to France. But the italians came back almost immediately in the 15th minute through a wonderful header resulting in a goal off a corner. After that what followed was over 100 minutes of goalless football. Goalless it may have been, but it was definitely not incident free. Apart from the numerous attempts at goal from both sides the incident of the match, if not the tournament, was what resulted in sending off of the French captain, playing his last match, Zinedine Zidane.

Here is what exactly happened. During an offensive from the French side, Italian defender Materazzi who was gaurding Zidane seemed to be involved verbally with the French legend. As the offensive subsided and the ball returned to the French half, both of them started their movement towards the ball, then all of a sudden Zidane stopped, turned around and gave a vicious headbutt to Materazzi. Thereby resulting in the ouster of both, one by injury the other by red card, for the rest of the match. Here is a gif of the headbutting that i found on the net.

After the match, all i have heard (especially on Radio by a few RJs) is that Zidane was at fault, he should have displayed better sportsmans spirit and everything, and it was his "irrational" aggression that cost France the match.

Taking that piece by piece.
Why is it only Zidane at fault? It is obvious to everyone that Materazzi made some comment that infuriated Zidane to such an extent to stop and return to hit Materazzi Is sledging, even though its a part of competitive sport, an example of sportsmanship? You are out there to match your football skills with another team, so how does trying to force the other into making a mistake(yup thats the justification given most frequently by Aussie cricketers who are renowned for their sledging) figure into the game?
Agreed that holding the nerve is a part of the game and comments like "what a terrible shot", "how the hell did you get selected for the team" are ok for me. But there is somewhere that the line needs to be drawn! There is no way that sportspersons should be allowed to attack, verbally of course, a fellow player in some manner that infuriates the other.
When sexual comments are included in sexual harassment, shouldnt sledging also be considered a foul?
These players are role models for many, and unless such events are stopped, there will be kids who would take to this kind of behaviour.
For me, it is unfair that Materazzi, the initiator of the incident, not only gets away clean but also watches his team celebrate the world cup victory.

next, whats with this "irrational" word? Is it just that the RJ had learnt this word lately and wanted to use it or was she actually in Zidane's shoes that evening to make this kind of a judgement?

cost france the match:bullshit! sure had Zidane been there, the result might have been different but then again it might still have been the same. You cant just blame him.
Apart from the RJ incident, there have been surveys that I have come across asking the people if Zidane's action has forever marred his image as a football icon.
my answer
What the hell?! Are you crazy?! This guy has given all the football fans so many moments of beautiful football, which is why he is the legend that he is. But in my opinion his reaction to Materazzi's comments, maybe a little too brash coming from such an experienced player, have made him respect him more.
Why should a legend take any kind of verbal abuse(racial, personal or whatever) from a nobody like Materazzi(yups he became a "somebody" only thanks to Zidane).

Good bye Zizou.
For me, thou will always be one of the best Football players that I have had the privelege to watch.
Lucky me.

Update: Materazzi's comment