No soccer fan can forget the names Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi and the infamous incident that occurred during the World Cup 2006 final.Zidane was France’s captain , their best player and inspirational leader; Materazzi was one of Italy’s top defenders. In the closing moments of extra time , with the teams locked in a 1-1 struggle, Zidane suddenly headbutted Materazzi and sent him writhing to the ground. He was promptly sent off and with that France’s hopes of winning disappeared in a flash.In the ensuing shoot-out, Italy prevailed on penalty kicks and took home the Jules Rimet Cup.
In the following days and weeks the incident was rehashed endlessly as fans tried to understand what set Zidane off . Materazzi , it transpired, had said something to Zidane just before the headbutt and lipreaders were consulted to find out what exactly it was that he had said. Eventually , Materazzi admitted to having said something derogatory about Zidane’s sister ; we don’t know exactly what though we can guess.
In the aftermath, Zidane dropped out of soccer. Even though French soccer fans were understanding , Zidane’s career and achievements were forever tainted by the incident. Materazzi’s post-2006 career too was forgettable.
What reminded me of Zidane and Materazzi was a recent article on Yahoo Sports . In it Materazzi was quoted as saying “I will not see any games and I know where I’ll be for the World Cup….I’ll be in a camper van in the United States. I will go touring with my friends and later I will go to Los Angeles with my family.” He also seems to expect an apology from Zidane .“I don’t take Zidane seriously anymore,” Materazzi said. “He keeps talking but there is still missing one word – ‘sorry.’ But now it’s not necessary anymore.If I was him, I would have personally said sorry without blowing things up in the media. But right now I’m not waiting anymore for a forced excuse.”
What am I missing here ? I would have thought that it was Zidane who was the aggrieved party. Afterall it was Materazzi who provoked the headbutt with his insult. Granted , Zidane should never have lost his cool but it seems to me that Materazzi fully intended some such reaction designed to negate Zidane and get him sent off. As a result of the incident, Zidane got a red card which at least partly led to France’s defeat. If anyone should apologize it should be Materazzi. For him to act as the victim is like the teenager who murders his parents and then asks for sympathy because he is an orphan.