I watched Zidane headbutt Materazzi and have himself sent off moments later. It was quite a spectacular attack. Materazzi dropped like a stone to the ground. Why did he do it? Well, apparently Materazzi did insult Zidane, as many people suspected, although there are rumours that the Materazzi may have labelled Zidane a terrorist. Materazzi has denied this and said the insult was as a result of what he perceived to be arrogance on Zidane’s part.
Whatever the reason, one question is whether this one incident should cast a shadow on what I gather has been a long and distinguished career? At the same time, an argument could be made that Zidane’s final act in the World Cup counts just as much as his actions over his career and his attack on Materazzi is just as much a reflection of him as all his positive acts in the past.
There are differing views in the blogosphere, as you would expect. The Brand Builder blog has the following to say:
Anyone who sees Zidane’s actions as being inexcusable completely misses the point. He got a red card. He didn’t get to finish the game. He was harshly but justly punished. France lost, though not just because he was ousted from the game. But he set Materazzi straight. All things are as they sould be. Get off the whole “disgrace” soapbox, and go turn on a baseball game or hockey. Who are we kidding here? These guys are athletes. This is all well within the realm of reasonable expectations: Mess with the bull, get the horns. Simple cause and effect. And a pretty universal one at that.
I am not so sure I agree. I am tending towards regarding his attack as something of a disappointment. A sportsman who is held in such high regard ought to have dealt with Materazzi’s insult better. There is the matter of how all his fans may perceive this example he sets. It isn’t a good one. As FIFA president Sepp Blatter put it:
Blatter said he was “very hurt” by Zidane’s violent reaction and that “to see him act like that made me feel bad, for him and for fair play.”