“Just” verbal?

by Eszter Hargittai on July 9, 2006

A lot of people seem to be extremely upset with Zidane for doing what he did with Materazzi. But wouldn’t we at least want to know a little bit about the verbal exchange? I guess the idea is that no matter what Materazzi said, the physical response was not warranted. Maybe. The whole thing reminds me of the incident at the end of the movie Bend it Like Beckham.

On a related note, I always wonder what language players speak when addressing each other in such situations.

{ 108 comments }

1

Isabel 07.09.06 at 3:40 pm

In this case, as I said, a language that was very well understood by Zidane. Judging by the body language (or lack thereof) of Materazzi, and the absence of expression in his face, he reminds me those kids that pinch their siblings so they go in a tantrum and be punished while they keep an angelic face.

2

Filter 07.09.06 at 3:44 pm

Zidane speaks Italian. I think Materazzi told him something about Zidane’s arab parents.

3

Isabel 07.09.06 at 3:47 pm

The Guardian says that replays swhow that Materazzi tweaked Zidane’s niple. Can we trust the Brits not to joke with such a serious matter???

4

Cryptic Ned 07.09.06 at 3:47 pm

Maybe he said “Headbutt me and convince one of your penalty-kickers to miss, and you will be rewarded handsomely by Signor Berlusconi.”

5

P O'Neill 07.09.06 at 3:48 pm

If #2 is right (and I suspect so), it’s going to be an awkward postscript to FIFA’s Say No to Racism campaign.

6

a 07.09.06 at 3:50 pm

Sadly I imagine it’s 2 and 5 who are right.

7

Daniel 07.09.06 at 3:51 pm

I think it is not entirely impossible that Zidane did it intentionally to get sent off because he didn’t want to be in the penalty shootout; IIRC he wasn’t in the shootout in 1998.

8

Isabel 07.09.06 at 3:55 pm

“He was headbutted by Zinedine Zidane in the FIFA World Cup 2006 final after saying something provocative to Zidane.”

Wikipedia on Materazzi ;-) They’ve already figured it out!

9

Chris Bertram 07.09.06 at 3:59 pm

_no matter what Materazzi said, the physical response was not warranted._

More like, whatever Materazzi said, violent conduct earns you a red card under the rules of the game. And Zidane knew that.

10

Ray 07.09.06 at 4:06 pm

The idea is that no matter what Materazzi said, the physical response was stupid.

11

foolishmortal 07.09.06 at 4:09 pm

My real-time opinion was that Zidane judged, correctly, that none of the refs could see him, and as he’s retiring did not care about a ban, but the assistant ref saw the replay on the stadium screen and let the ref know what happened.

What a stupid way to end your career. Typical galactico bullshit.

12

Aidan Maconachy 07.09.06 at 4:21 pm

Viva Italia! Great control and awesome penalty finishing. They deserved it.

It doesn’t matter what Matterazzi said to Zizou. As captain of the team at a World Cup final with only minutes to go, it was inexcusable conduct. Sad end to a great career.

13

Eszter 07.09.06 at 4:22 pm

Chris, your – and others’ – comment assumes completely rational action. Depending on what was said, do you think completely rational action can/should be expected?

14

Chris Waigl 07.09.06 at 4:25 pm

I’m totally stupefied… and not happy about the effect this is going to have in France. On the other hand, there’s bound to be more to this — Zidane for one may not totally deserve his god-like stature of purity, but he isn’t known at all for displays like that one. I’d have said anyone rather than him, out of the French players.

So yeah, I’m waiting for the story to come out, even though whatever it is, of course the red card was deserved. No doubt about it. If it’s the “nipple-twisting”, that would open up interesting cans of worms: sex/sexuality … and would be very disappointing. The only thing I’d find Zidane’s action understandable (not warranted) for is a racist remark.

15

Chris Waigl 07.09.06 at 4:29 pm

Oh, and Chris Bertram: I don’t think that the headbutt would have been *warranted* even for the worst words I could imagine. There are, however, things Materazzi could have said that would Zidane’s action into the “understandable” (if terminally stupid and disappointingly self-centered) box.

16

Randy Paul 07.09.06 at 4:32 pm

but he isn’t known at all for displays like that one

In 1998, he was suspended for two games for a vicious tackle on a Saudi player that got him a straight red card in the opening round play.

17

Randy Paul 07.09.06 at 4:35 pm

Let me correct that: it wasn’t a tackle, it was for all appearances, a deliberate stomping.

18

Chris Bertram 07.09.06 at 4:35 pm

Nothing I wrote implied that all action is rational or that what Zidane did would not have been understandable (assuming some provocation). If Materazzi said something racist, then he ought to be punished. There isn’t any actual evidence that he did though.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry on sledging, for comparative reference

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sledging_%28cricket%29

19

Blue Stranger 07.09.06 at 4:36 pm

20

Dan Kervick 07.09.06 at 4:37 pm

But wouldn’t we at least want to know a little bit about the verbal exchange?

My guess is that Matterazi said, “Hey Zizou…What’s the first thing you’re going to do after you retire, and can stop acting like a goody two-shoes, elder statesman football god?”

21

a 07.09.06 at 4:39 pm

Red card or not it’s disappointing Zidane wasn’t there collecting the runner’s up award at the end. It’s not a time to shut yourself in the locker room.

22

Patrick S. O'Donnell 07.09.06 at 4:41 pm

Zidane is in the World Cup Final, he’s the team’s captain and is clearly intelligent, with many years of invaluable experience behind him: such factors should indeed create an expectation that no matter what was said, he should not have lost his cool. It’s simply inexcusable to respond in the manner he did. He might have responded with a clever and cutting remark or simply kept his mouth shut and sublimated (hence positively directed) his anger on behalf of the team. There’s no way to maneuver around an accurate description of what happened coupled with the consequent disappointment….

23

jhupp 07.09.06 at 4:42 pm

For clarity only, Zidane’s parents are Berbers, not Arabs. Of course, Materazzi’s words, were they involved, probably didn’t differentiate as such.

About 3/4 of the way through this article there is a stretch about Zidane’s “inner rage,” specifically as it pertains to his family and race.

24

Dan Kervick 07.09.06 at 4:47 pm

It could have been almost anything that set him off. But verbal taunting is part of the game, and I imagine the Italians are quite good at it. Zidane had just misdirected a header toward the center of the goal, and may have realized that he had muffed France’s last best chance to win the cup. Surely he knew that a Barthiez/Buffon matchup in PKs wouldn’t favor France. Frustration + game fatigue + long tournament + long carrer = violent outburt.

25

Henry 07.09.06 at 4:51 pm

Youtube has it “here”:http://youtube.com/watch?v=NBV52GPhNjw&feature=Recent&page=6&t=t&f=b. Looks like a nipple-tweak to me.

26

Blue Stranger 07.09.06 at 4:52 pm

I lived in France for a couple years, the immigrants/2nd generation French there have a reputation for not taking any crap.

27

Doug 07.09.06 at 4:56 pm

So given the clarity of the contact before Zidane’s head-butt, can FIFA ban Materazzi now, like they did to Germany’s Frings? Or if Materazzi was one of Italy’s PK shooters, how about disallowing his and calling the last game a draw?

28

novakant 07.09.06 at 5:07 pm

ban Materazzi? for what?

that was at the very most a yellow card

Frings was punished for allegedly punching an Argentinian player in the face; he most probably didn’t do it, because the even the player in question didn’t remember having a fist in his face – but that’s another matter

29

Aidan Maconachy 07.09.06 at 5:28 pm

Anyone who has played football or rugby knows that there is a psychological component to it. Taunting, insults, tweaks, pinches and punches often go on out of the ref’s line of vision.

I watched the replay carefully and it looks more like Materazzi’s hand massaging Zizou’s chest area. I couldn’t make out anything that resembled a pinching or tweaking action.

But even if Materazzi called Zizou’s parents “dirty arabs”, or even if more obscene racist taunts were involved … even sexual taunts relating to rumors … there is no way Zizou playing at a game of this importance could lose it to that degree without choosing to do so.

If it had been passion of the moment, you would have expected some remorse, distress … but there was none of this. He looked as though he meant to do it and was standing by his action, as he awaited the ref’s call.

Question is why? Well his last hurrah was that header that Buffon saved. He knew it was going to penalties. I think it was a cynical decision, a sort of “fuck this” gesture of disgust after all his best efforts had failed to yeild dividends.

Yeah I’m sure the taunts stung, as did the physical contact – but come on, Zizou has received death threats before games (the French/Algeria game) and knows all too well the kind of bile players are up against.

I can’t believe that this was simply a spontaneous act based entirely on passion. He’s too long in the tooth for that.

30

Bob 07.09.06 at 5:29 pm

Materazzi said racist comments to Zidane as provocation.

31

Clayton 07.09.06 at 5:33 pm

I’m sceptical about this nipple theory. You’d think that if Zidane’s nipples were pinched so severely that he’d lose control and take someone off of his feet with a retaliatory headbutt, you’d see a reaction to the pinching. Wouldn’t you be surprised or startled by a serious tweaking? I’ve watched the video and when Materazzi’s hand is in the nipple region, there’s no discernible reaction on Zidane’s part.

32

radek 07.09.06 at 5:41 pm

I liked how he spit contemptously while waiting for the card

33

Jacob Christensen 07.09.06 at 5:45 pm

On a purely lingustic note: In Danish a headbutt is called en skalle (that would translate as something like “a skull”), but in Swedish it is always called en dansk skalle (“a Danish skull”).

I have no idea how this type of ethnic insult originally entered vernacular language – although the Danes have repayed the favour in another field of human activity (If you don’t ask, I won’t tell…).

Back to the headbutting: At the European Championships back in 1984 there was a famous incident where a French player (Jean Tigana??) headbutted Jesper Olsen after a heated exchange of insults. One of the players also threw the ball after the other. That was an instant classic on Danish television.

Maybe the Swedes should begin to talk about franska skaller instead?

34

Ron F 07.09.06 at 5:55 pm

Could be a bit of covert nipple-tweaking activity going on when Zidane’s chest is obscured by another player. Or, as someone speculates at YouTube –

Materazzi told him that his mother looked like Wayne Rooney

who in turn looks like Shrek. Ouch!

35

Dan Kervick 07.09.06 at 5:55 pm

After watching the replay, and the Materazzi titty twister, I think the taunting was probably along some variant of classic Mediterranean jocularity:

“Zizou, you’re dead sexy! What are you doing after the game.”

“Hey you have a nice ass …”

“… even nicer than your sister’s”

“Probably less hairy though”

36

Dan Kervick 07.09.06 at 5:59 pm

On a purely lingustic note: In Danish a headbutt is called en skalle (that would translate as something like “a skull”), but in Swedish it is always called en dansk skalle (“a Danish skull”).

Recalling a very famous Danish skull, I hereby move that we henceforth call a headbutt a “Yorick”.

37

foolishmortal 07.09.06 at 6:00 pm

Danish skull? Even as an american, to me its a Glasgow (or less frequently, Liverpool) kiss.

38

ob 07.09.06 at 6:02 pm

that’s it, dan–I’m head-butting you. Right now.

In other news, I’m glad we didn’t take too many back-and-forths before remembering that handy dandy distinction between
**explaining**
and
**justifying**.

Always useful when working in the world of imperfect rational agents, i.e. agents who do things that cannot be excused, but can be explained.

I seem to remember it coming in handy the other year when we wanted to **understand** the terrorists we’re up against, while not really thinking it is okay to knock down Manhattan. (The inability to understand this distinction was for a while the defining mark of a wing-nut–they’ve since found other ways to manifest their stupidity).

Oh, and jacob ch.–great story. Made my day, linguistically speaking.

39

Ron F 07.09.06 at 6:07 pm

Jacob – (“a Danish skull”)

In the UK you can hear a head butt referred to as a “Glasgow Kiss”, after the Scottish city of that name.

40

Another Damned Medievalist 07.09.06 at 6:11 pm

I keep saying … Materazi was reminding Zizou that Berlusconi has a very long reach, and that Zizou had better get off the pitch if he wanted his family to have long and happy lives … It was a drastic attempt to get taken off, after asking for a sub for the shoulder injury didn’t work. Really. Maybe. If Dan Brown were writing it …

41

carnegie 07.09.06 at 6:16 pm

A less hilarious way of describing a nipple tweak is “sexual assault”.

42

P O'Neill 07.09.06 at 6:32 pm

Playing to form, a John Podhoretz “joke” from the Corner

A French player assaulting an Italian player during the finals match. I gather that the incident began when the Italian player said, “You know what? I like Jews.”

43

novakant 07.09.06 at 6:55 pm

oh and more hilarity from the Corner:

Instead of playing the match and losing, why didn’t France simply surrender the way it always does?

jeekers, could it be that the people posting there are simply a bit stupid (and I mean stupid not in the sense of misguided or foolish, but literally i.e. lack of intelligence)?

44

vice 07.09.06 at 7:09 pm

please don’t bring up the corner… we yanks have enough trouble getting serious cup discussion without bringing up those a holes…

45

Dan Kervick 07.09.06 at 7:34 pm

“A less hilarious way of describing a nipple tweak is “sexual assault”.”

I suppose the same is true of a nadstomp. Maybe we should bring Materazzi and Rooney up on charges.

46

ob 07.09.06 at 7:36 pm

yeah, I think literal stupidity is the best explanation, for much of the contents of the Cornhole (as the Editors like to call it).

Could anyone with two wits to rub together really utter a slur about an entire nation, sc. France, to the effect that it is anti-semitic, without realizing that this is a gross prejudice of exactly the same sort as anti-semitism? “Huh huh, those French–they sure are prejudiced!”

I mean, I know that there are pockets of France that have a problem with anti-semitic creeps. Does that make this guy–whose parents are apparently Berber in any case–fair game for charges of anti-semitism?

I’m looking forward to the next round in which the Cornhole says that this sort of unsportsmanlike roughness is typically French–then we can delve a bit deeper into the many documented instances in which their boy Bush cheated and fouled and took cheap shots when he was losing at sporting events. There’s a good description of one episode in Susskind’s new book, as well as a good photo of the Loser in Chief fouling someone years ago playing rugby.

47

JakeBCool 07.09.06 at 7:37 pm

I’ve heard a head-butt referred to as a ‘Scottish nut’ — by a Glaswegian and also by an Englishman.

I was surprised that it wasn’t Barthez’s fault, really, at the end; that second kick would have gone in had it been an inch or so lower.

If I had a time machine, I might consider transporting every American chickenhawk who makes French surrender jokes to Ypres at certain times in 1915 and 1917. I think it would be very character-building for them.

48

DC 07.09.06 at 7:56 pm

I’m sorry to carry on with “the Corner”, but impressed by the sheer witlessness of the above quote I was inspired to visit it for the very first time. This is from the next comment:

“I gather that the incident began when the Italian player said, “You know what? I like Jews.”

Gosh but that really is stupid, witless stuff, isn’t it? Stupid as in not intelligent, and witless as in lacking any wit. Oh well.

49

blah 07.09.06 at 8:10 pm

Anybody else notice how Materazzi flew backward as if he had been shot in the chest point blank with a rifle?

Flopping is almost instinctual with those Italians.

50

P O'Neill 07.09.06 at 8:32 pm

Yeah the Cornhole this evening was an unfunny version of that Niger Powers line about hating people who are prejudiced against other cultures, and the Dutch.

51

nick s 07.09.06 at 8:49 pm

Please, if we wanted to read the scribblings of idiots, we’d either go to the Corner or wait for jet to post.

I might consider transporting every American chickenhawk who makes French surrender jokes to Ypres at certain times in 1915 and 1917.

I particularly would like to see George Will transported back to the Siege of Paris for cracking that line.

52

tom @whimsley 07.09.06 at 9:15 pm

11. The BBC say the incident wasn’t shown on the stadium screen:

” The replay of Zidane’s attack on Materazzi was not shown on the giant screens inside the stadium, leaving France fans to harbour a misplaced sense of injustice for their hero.”

53

CR 07.09.06 at 9:17 pm

Instead of playing the match and losing, why didn’t France simply surrender the way it always does?

Well perhaps Derbyshire has a point. After all the US did play up to its recent military precedent: 0 wins, 1 draw (Korea), 2 loses (Vietnam, Iraq).

Perhaps I’m calling the Iraq match at the 75th minute, but what the hell.

54

luci 07.09.06 at 9:53 pm

Anybody else notice how Materazzi flew backward as if he had been shot in the chest

Totally. Announcers regarded it as a “vicious” attack…Well, maybe if he had head-butted Materazzi in the face. I’m sure Materazzi was stunned, but it’s not like a full punch in the chest or the face.

Those guys are professional athletes, I wonder why their pride (or conscience) doesn’t bother them when they’re rolling on the turf in “agony” after being tripped.

55

Dan Kervick 07.09.06 at 10:39 pm

I don’t know. Materazzi’s fall looks legit to me. If a guy who can head a ball like Zidane gives you a point black head butt to the sternum, its going to knock you on you ass.

56

wbb 07.09.06 at 11:09 pm

dan is right. Zidane’s head-butt packed a beautiful punch. He brought some zen to the assault. The fall was one of the few genuine in the tournament.

57

Michael 07.09.06 at 11:27 pm

All this academic talk is overwrought overanalysis. Zidane flattened him on his @$$ for a good reason.

58

blah 07.09.06 at 11:28 pm

Watch the video again and pay attention to Materazzi’s legs: the both go flying forward and alomst immediately leave the ground. It does not look like a natural fall at all. It looks like Materazzi is jumping into the air.

59

jay 07.09.06 at 11:47 pm

I’ve watched the headbutt and the fall a number of times. I’m confident it was real. The natural movement of the legs in that situation (assuming they’re not firmly attached to the ground) *should* be to move forward as the body moves backwards. There were plenty of dives by the Italian team, but I don’t think was one of them.

60

~~~~ 07.10.06 at 1:58 am

Another rumor is that Materazzi accused Zidane of involvement in the steroid abuse scandal at Zidane’s former club Juventus. (This would also explain Zidane’s early balding.)

61

john h 07.10.06 at 5:07 am

#46 – Armchair General here,

The Ypres salient was held by British and Empire forces throughout the war.

For an equivalent eye-opener, send those Keyboard Kommandos to Verdun instead.

62

yonray 07.10.06 at 6:28 am

Outrageous and quite wrong to opine thus but… wasn’t there something rather magnificent in what Zidane did? Kingly, sort of? What, when, why. Something happened – we don’t know what yet – but something he really didn’t like. He runs around for a couple of seconds… then … I don’t have to take this – BAM!! Won’t it ultimately add to his legend, rather than detract from it?

63

Ray 07.10.06 at 7:19 am

As much as lifting the World Cup for the second time would have added to his reputation? I don’t think so.

64

ob 07.10.06 at 7:23 am

yonray–

The model you are looking for is Achilles.

The rest of the world is expressing outrage at Zidane because he *let down the team*.

Your reaction is: who cares about the team? His personal honor was affronted, he vindicated himself, and was unrepentant about doing it. Yes, it may have cost his team the World Cup.

But better that the Achaeans should be hard-pressed by the Trojans–better even that their ships should be burnt on the beaches–than that Achilles’ own honor should be slighted and Agamemnon pay no penalty for it.

Yes, there is something recognizably kingly about it. All you have to do is buy into a value-system that places individual honor far above collective good, and you can see it right away. (There were even Athenians who admired Alcibiades *for betraying Athens* because he had done it with such studious regard for his own glory, and such manifest disdain for the common good).

It’s not my cuppa, but then I’ve always thought Odysseus is by far the better man. Still, I recognize the impulse you’re giving voice to.

65

KB 07.10.06 at 8:17 am

Whatever the case, the Zidane head-butt is the best thing that ever happened to C. Ronaldo. The villain of the tournament no longer.

66

Rio 07.10.06 at 10:21 am

Estzer, there’s an interesting article over at Slate called “Does Soccer Have a Lingua Franca?” I thought you might be interested.

http://www.slate.com/id/2143758/

“It helps to know a few choice phrases to throw at your opponents, and players sometimes brush up on their expletives for a particular game. Lalas once regaled an official in Ecuador with the Spanish translation of “son of a bitch.” The resulting phrase turned out to be far more offensive than the English version, and he got a red card on the spot.”

67

jakeb 07.10.06 at 10:29 am

General John H–
You’re correct that Verdun is a better example. I was thinking only along the lines of examples of brutal battles in which the French took part (as well as all the Allies running away at least briefly in 2nd Ypres). But Verdun is preferable re the particular talking point.

68

Socceroo 07.10.06 at 10:48 am

I think Zidane’s shoulder injury should figure as part of the explanation for his foul. He clearly felt as though he had been badly treated by the Italian defense and ignored by the refs. And if he was truly in a great deal of pain, he may have been more vulnerable to poor judgment.

Also, the American commentators kept referring to Beckenbauer’s 1970 game against Italy. Perhaps Beckenbauer didn’t have to listen to yapping like that of Materazzi’s.

Yesterday was a sad for soccer, that’s for sure.

69

Daniel 07.10.06 at 12:00 pm

I think Zidane’s shoulder injury should figure as part of the explanation for his foul

yes, it made it more difficult for him to punch.

70

bob 07.10.06 at 12:50 pm

Just another reason why this Sport sucks in my opinion… Although I respect the abilities of the players and believe it’s one of the most physically demanding sports, actions like Zidanes makes you think of them as the prima donas they really are.

And talk about an anti-climatic ending. You watch for 2 hours a hard fought game decided mostly by arbitrary calls by the refs, and then have a shoot out decide the winner. This set back the acceptance of soccer in the US for at least another 20 years if not forever!

Sorry but Soccer is the sports of “Tribes” and will always be another form of war. My Favorite gimmick is having the 2 teams enter the arena side by side with the protection on 9 years olds. Just like the terrorist of the Middle East using women and children for protection from the enemy!

Greatest Sport my ass!

71

RickD 07.10.06 at 1:36 pm

Several comments:

1) Zidane played for quite some time in Italy. Given the linguistic closeness between French and Italian, I think it’s reasonable to presume he could understand anything said to him in Italian.

2) Zidane does have a small history with the prior red card

3) Materazzi did tweak his nipple while grabbing him.

4) Even before that incident, Zidane had been pushed and grabbed for most of the evening. At one poing he had to leave the field with a non-functioning shoulder. Observers speculated it had been dislocated, but pulled back into place.

5) Clearly Materazzi said something while Zidane was walking away that crossed the line of decent sportsmanship. Materazzi is denying that he called Zidane a terrorist, FWIW.

6) With all that in mind, Zidane’s headbutt was inexcusable, and the red card was appropriate.

7) This is the second time we’ve seen a red card of a leading player possibly as the result of a game full of harrassment. The first was Wayne Rooney in the Portugal game. Both games were refereed by Horacio Elizondo of Argentina. Apparently he has a “let them play” philosophy. Perhaps this matter should be addressed with him privately in an informal manner by FIFA.

8) There is a question as to whether taunting a player to enrage him and get him red carded is good sportsmanship. I think it detracts from the victory in some cases. That was certainly true of the flopsy Portuguese, who were in serious danger of losing to a stronger England side before Rooney was sent off. As for Italy, I think it’s far less certain that France would have scored the first non-penalty, non-own goal against Italy in the last 10 minutes of the game. In any case, what was far more dubious than his trash-talking was Materazzi climing on Patrick Viera, holding him down with his shoulder, while getting into an open position for the header that tied the game at 1.

9) Anybody who thinks Zidane got intentionally sent off to avoid the pressure of a penalty kick is seriously, seriously wrong.

10) No matter how you slice it, if the game went to penalties, with the players on the field, David Trezeguet would have been taking one of the kicks. He missed his shot.

11) Italy was the best team over the course of a tournament. France’s play in the group stage was only sufficient to reach the second round because they played in a particularly weak group. Italy played in one of the two strongest groups and won it fairly convincingly. They beat Germany in Germany, which nobody else could manage. On the whole they are worthy champions.

Still, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened without the last-second penalty kick against the Socceroos. Italy did not dominate in the way France and Brazil had in the previous two World Cups. But somebody’s got to win, and Italy was as good a candidate as anybody else.

72

Anderson 07.10.06 at 1:36 pm

A French player assaulting an Italian player during the finals match. I gather that the incident began when the Italian player said, “You know what? I like Jews.”

Actually, that *is* pretty funny. Sorry, Francophiles, but your country’s reputation for anti-semitism is an earned one. Ask Alfred Dreyfuss. Ask the Jewish kids you rounded up for the Nazis.

73

Filter 07.10.06 at 2:07 pm

Uhm, France didn’t dominate 1998 World Cup. In quarter finals, they needed penalty kicks to get over Italy. In semifinals, Croatia played an excellent match and France won only because of two very unusual shots by Thuram. Oh, and I remember them beating Paraguay at the last minute of overtime.

74

Tyrone Slothrop 07.10.06 at 2:40 pm

After all the US did play up to its recent military precedent: 0 wins, 1 draw (Korea), 2 loses (Vietnam, Iraq).

You forgot Grenada.

They say the competition is weak in CONCACAF, but the games still count, no?

75

Randy Paul 07.10.06 at 3:10 pm

Actually, that is pretty funny. Sorry, Francophiles, but your country’s reputation for anti-semitism is an earned one. Ask Alfred Dreyfuss. Ask the Jewish kids you rounded up for the Nazis.

Have you ever seen a Lazio game? The only thing missing there is Il Duce himself. Italy, where black players are routinely met with monkey chants, is hardly a bastion of tolerance.

76

Robin 07.10.06 at 3:24 pm

Actually, that is pretty funny. Sorry, Francophiles, but your country’s reputation for anti-semitism is an earned one. Ask Alfred Dreyfuss. Ask the Jewish kids you rounded up for the Nazis.

Clearly nothing but condemnation is merited by French anti-Semitism and its complicity in the Holocaust. But it’s rather weird to suggest that Italy has some stellar track record. It was the other part of the Axis, remember? Though I guess people don’t these days, as one of the last public interventions by the decent and late Franco Modigliani reminded us. (http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/ViewPopUpArticle.jsp?id=10&articleId=1512)

It is interesting to also recall that Leon Blum, René Mayer, Michel Debré, Laurent Fabius, and Pierre Mendès-France were all Jewish or part Jewish, interesting for such an anomalously anti-Semetic European country.

77

Anderson 07.10.06 at 3:26 pm

Italy, where black players are routinely met with monkey chants, is hardly a bastion of tolerance.

Which suggests a verbal retort which Z. might have made to good effect, but doesn’t really relate to whether or not France has enough anti-semitism in its past to merit being ragged-on for it.

The Italians are probably just sore that they’re one of the few European powers to get its ass handed to it in a colonial war.

78

Anderson 07.10.06 at 3:30 pm

Leon Blum

Right, the French were just *wild* about him.

Sigh. As before, nothing in the NR comment or my snarky endorsement thereof said *anything* about Italy’s own racial problems. Or America’s, for that matter. (Though, hey, we have lots of prominent black Americans! I guess that racism thing is over with, then!)

79

novakant 07.10.06 at 3:56 pm

Anderson seems to be one those thugs who likes to sing “Ten German Bombers” whenever Germany plays, and why not, after all “their reputation is an earned one” and in his world that “merits being ragged on for it” indefinitely.

80

Randy Paul 07.10.06 at 4:07 pm

Anderson,

Apparently the people at the Corner don’t know history or don’t know the old saying about glass houses and stones when making that statement regarding Materazzi.

As for the state of things, now in France regarding football, if you know of anything taking place in Ligue 1 as odious as what takes place at a Lazio game, please enlighten us.

81

Sam 07.10.06 at 4:13 pm

Coincidence that Matterazi’s dad managed Lazio? I don’t think so. It’s just blind, dumb luck that we weren’t treated to the image of bananas flying onto the pitch from the Italian fans.

Someone earlier said: “Actually, that is pretty funny. Sorry, Francophiles, but your country’s reputation for anti-semitism is an earned one. Ask Alfred Dreyfuss. Ask the Jewish kids you rounded up for the Nazis.”

Perhaps the commenter can identify a nation that doesn’t have a long and proud tradition of anti-semitism.

82

RickD 07.10.06 at 4:32 pm

BBC just had on an Italian lip-reader. Apparently Materazzi told Zidane that he wished “an ugly death for you and your family”. BBC also said that Zidane found out yesterday that his mother is seriously ill.

I hope all the French bashers are enjoying their feelings of superiority.

83

mpowell 07.10.06 at 5:10 pm

#70- Funny thing, soccer is already big in the United States. The only thing preventing the United States from fielding a world champion caliber team at this point is not the popularity of the sport here but our educational system. An international team is filled with top notch players in their early 20s. If you’re European you’re playing for a professional club full time in the most rigorous training environment possible from the age of 15 or 16. In the states you stay in high school and go to a few camps over the summer. Sometimes, they even try to go to college, but that is not as much of a problem anymore. Those extra couple years of experience make a big difference in the height of a player’s peak. By the time the US players have the same level of experience they are going to be older, on average- and players in their late 20s are OLD in the world cup.

I think US goalies will probably continue to be better than their teammates. A goalies peak is a lot later in life.

84

otto 07.10.06 at 5:11 pm

Good for the BBC!

There is no feeling of superiority here nor french bashing. But playing profesional football requires the ability to submit to the worst possible insults without a physical response. Zidane failed a basic requirement of the game.

85

DC 07.10.06 at 6:47 pm

Clearly Leon Blum was not popular with everyone in France, partly because he was a (non-religious) Jew. (Also partly because he was a socialist.) But he was popular enough to become prime minister before and after the war. So was another Jew, Pierre Mendes France.

I don’t believe the US has yet had the good fortune to elect a Jewish President, nor a socialist one, you antisemitic bastards.

86

blah 07.10.06 at 7:05 pm

Personally, I don’t mind seeing a little physical violence in sports, and the headbutt really was pretty mild. Much less dangerous than the elbows and kicks the players recieve throught the game.

Of course Zidane’s conduct was wrong, but I do find some of the overreaction amusing.

87

P O'Neill 07.10.06 at 8:16 pm

The BBC report (which seems as yet to have no web version) also mentioned a “four letter expletive”, and seemed to imply that it was in Italian.

88

Jacob Christensen 07.10.06 at 10:55 pm

I suppose that at least some of you will have seen the latest article in Slate on the issue: Does Zinedine Zidane know how to use his head? (Answer: Yes!).

Thanks for the information about Glasgow and Liverpool, by the way. France may have lost the Final but I learned some new expressions. (I suspect that sailors on shore leave are ultimately responsible for the reputation of said cities: Ports used to be unruly places. Denmark has great maritime traditions and that may explain why the Swedish link a particular act of violence with their neighbours).

Oh, and following Zidane’s antics, then maybe a beadbutt in the future will be known as a French Kiss.

89

a 07.11.06 at 12:59 am

“BBC just had on an Italian lip-reader. Apparently Materazzi told Zidane that he wished “an ugly death for you and your family”. BBC also said that Zidane found out yesterday that his mother is seriously ill.”

Funny that! The Brazilians also hired a lip-reader. Only this one said the comment was about his sister being a prostitute.

Maybe the insult was the mother of all insults. Or maybe the insult was just a normal one, and Zidane, being the tongue-tied silent type that he is, wasn’t able to mouth a verbal reply. So he resorted to the only method he has at his disposal: violence.

90

Petronius 07.11.06 at 4:12 am

The more I look at the video, the more I think it’s not a racial slur and that it was probably something that sounded pretty innocuous to Materazzi (which likely is something pretty bad, but not THAT BAD TO HIM in the context of the usual stuff said on the pitch).

My reasoning is that Materazzi seemed to have no idea what was coming to him. He didn’t even flinch when Zidane was just inches from him. If Materazzi had used a racial slur, surely he would have known that it was taboo. You don’t just say these things and look around unconcerned.

In any case, this is up there with Tyson’s bite on Holyfield for me. It had less gross-out but more shock value.

91

Saint Fnordius 07.11.06 at 5:26 am

If in fact Materazzi had insulted Zidane’s mother, that would explain* Zidane’s reaction as well as Materazzi’s surprise at his reaction. Materazzi isn’t known for being a genuis, and probably didn’t know about Zizou’s mother was actually ill. If he did, then he deserves to be banned from FIFA/UEFA play for a long, long time.

*but not justify. Even Zidane didn’t bother constesting the card. He accepted that there wasa price to pay.

92

a 07.11.06 at 6:03 am

“If he did, then he deserves to be banned from FIFA/UEFA play for a long, long time.”

What an utterly ridiculous idea. A ban on saying “Your mother wears army boots” because the opponent’s mother might be ill? As this thing wears on, it just seems more and more a case of a bunch of sore losers unable to get a grip that they lost.

Here is what Materazzi says – since he’s the only one who has bothered to speak publicly, I think we need to accept it until Zidane talks:

“J’ai tenu son maillot pendant quelques secondes seulement, il s’est tourné vers moi, il m’a parlé en raillant, il m’a regardé avec super arrogance, de haut en bas: ‘si vraiment tu veux mon maillot, je te le donnerai après’. Je lui ai répondu avec une insulte, c’est vrai”, a raconté Materazzi, selon La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Interrogé si l’insulte visait la sœur du joueur français, comme l’ont affirmé certains médias, Marco Materazzi a précisé: “Une insulte de celles qu’on s’entend dire des dizaines de fois et qui nous échappent souvent sur le terrain”.
“Ce qui est sûr c’est que je ne l’ai pas traité de terroriste: je ne suis pas cultivé et je ne sais même pas ce que c’est un terroriste islamiste et ma seule terroriste c’est elle…”, a dit la veille Materazzi au journaliste en se tournant vers sa fille de 10 mois, dormant à ses côtés dans l’avion qui a ramené l’équipe italienne à la maison.
“Je n’ai certainement pas mis en cause non plus la maman de Zidane, pour moi, la maman est sacrée”, a ajouté le joueur de l’Inter Milan.

Just in case you didn’t catch that, Zidane launched the first insult: “If you want my jersey, then I will give it to you afterwards.”

And at the end: “I certainly didn’t mention the the mother of Zidane. For me, the mother is sacred.”

93

a 07.11.06 at 6:07 am

And by the way, Materazzi lost his mother when he was 14. Perhaps we should ban comments on Crooked Timber from people who were insensitive enough to think that Materazzi would possibly insult someone’s mother?

94

gr 07.11.06 at 7:20 am

I don’t understand why anyone would think that Zidane’s offer to give Materazzi his shirt afterwards was a grave insult. What did Materazzi expect after all his nipple tweaking? Perhaps he couldn’t bear to lose a verbal confrontation to that tongue tied savage.

By the way, a prominent Italian politician proclaimed today that France lost because their team consists of ‘niggers, muslims, and communists’. Puts things in perspective, I guess.

95

bob 07.11.06 at 7:43 am

“#70- Funny thing, soccer is already big in the United States.”

Yup that’s pretty funny all right! It’s a “big” snoooze!

And what’s even more laughable is blaming the “education system” for the failure of the US in the cup. The US education deserves it share of blame but not for producing these “thin skinned” girlie men, who get so upset at some trash talk, that they take a cheap shot like the French Girl did!

I guess we can only hope that they start producing players as smart as the those who play in the NBA.

Professional Soccer is the game of Terrorist and the PC crowd.

96

~~~~ 07.11.06 at 7:52 am

82: BBC just had on an Italian lip-reader. Apparently Materazzi told Zidane that he wished ‘an ugly death for you and your family’. BBC also said that Zidane found out yesterday that his mother is seriously ill.

89: Funny that! The Brazilians also hired a lip-reader. Only this one said the comment was about his sister being a prostitute.

According to the lip-reader for The Times, Materazzi called Zidane “the son of a terrorist whore”. (Lip-reading is not a protected profession.)

97

a 07.11.06 at 7:57 am

“I don’t understand why anyone would think that Zidane’s offer to give Materazzi his shirt afterwards was a grave insult.”

It wasn’t a grave insult. Who said it was? Why would you think anyone said it was? It’s very mild. On the other hand, it’s an insult where replying with another, worse insult is perfectly legitmate.

98

Randy Paul 07.11.06 at 8:49 am

Professional Soccer is the game of Terrorist and the PC crowd.

[BIG YAWN]

99

conchis 07.11.06 at 12:22 pm

#81: New Zealand.

100

abb1 07.11.06 at 12:52 pm

101

Robin 07.11.06 at 3:15 pm

It’s gets sadder and stupider.

From the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/sports/soccer/11cnd-italy.html?hp&ex=1152676800&en=e353d1c6e81c612c&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Swastikas spray painted in Rome’s ancient Jewish ghetto sullied Italy’s joy after its World Cup victory on Sunday, as did racial comments made by a former government minister about the French team…And a number of Italian politicians and the French ambassador to Italy issued a strong rebuke to remarks made by Roberto Calderoli, the former minister of reform and a member of the right-wing National Alliance Party. After the Cup victory he said that the Italians had vanquished a French team that was comprised of “Negroes, communists and Moslems.” Italian soccer is no stranger to extremist politics. Italian football matches are often used as a platform for far-right fans to express racist sentiments.

102

Evan 07.12.06 at 2:53 am

Go Zizou! He knew what he would get, decided it was worth it, did it, and took the consequences without whining. At last something worth cheering for in this utterly drab and boring world cup.

103

bob 07.12.06 at 8:17 am

Yup like I said, it’s the game of Terrorist!

“I am utterly disgusted by what I have heard. I praise my son for defending his family’s honour,” she reportedly told friends.

“No one should be subjected to such foul insults on or off the football pitch and I don’t care if it was a World Cup Final. I have nothing but contempt for Materazzi.”

http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1227435,00.html

Sound like his mother is a Terrorist after all!

104

Randy Paul 07.12.06 at 8:39 am

Sound like his mother is a Terrorist after all!

[EVEN BIGGER YAWN]

105

Filter 07.12.06 at 9:47 am

The Mirror reported that she said she wanted to see Materazzi’s virility on a tray.

106

a 07.12.06 at 10:59 am

She may get her chance Sep 6, if Materazzi shows to the Euro-qualifying match between Italy and France at the Stade de France.

Zidane at least speaking – on the telly tonight. I do wonder what he will say.

107

Sam 07.12.06 at 1:06 pm

“Go Zizou! He knew what he would get, decided it was worth it, did it, and took the consequences without whining. At last something worth cheering for in this utterly drab and boring world cup.”

I couldn’t possibly agree more.

108

astrid 07.12.06 at 5:04 pm

he said that the Italians had vanquished a French team that was comprised of “Negroes, communists and Moslems.”

I apologize in name of all non-racist Italian football fans.
(by the way, Calderoli is not a member of the right-wing National Alliance Party but of the secessionist party Northern League)

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