It's generally agreed that Materazzi said something really terrible to Zidane, but there's been no end to speculation and debate over what he actually said. Various theories have Materazzi using anti-Muslim slurs or calling him an Arab terrorist. Zidane is the son of Algerian immigrants.
"I did not say anything to him concerning racism, religion or politics," Materazzi said. "I didn't say anything about his mother either. I lost my mother when I was 15 years old and still now nothing moves me more than talking about her. Naturally, I did not know that his [mother] was in hospital and I want to send her my best wishes."
Sounds like he said something about Zidane's mother, doesn't it?
Because while we can all empathize with Zidane's sentiment that it's unfair for the retaliation to be punished but not the provocation, the first problem, just as it was for Mom or Dad when you were smacking your little brother upside his annoying head, is one of enforcement. How are officials supposed to know about the provocation?
It's hard enough to catch the big stuff. Zidane's massive head butt to Materazzi's chest was an obvious red-card foul when it was shown on TV replays, but in the stadium, it was easy to miss. Since it happened away from the ball, it looked to most of the crowd like just another soccer player writhing around on the grass. Nothing to get too excited about.
The referee would have missed it if he hadn't consulted with one of his assistants, who had apparently seen the replay on one of the stadium's giant video screens. We're talking about a -- wham! -- solid head butt to the chest in wide-open space. Almost missed.
And now this enforcement system is supposed to know that, just before the broad-daylight head butt to the chest that it missed, the guy who got head-butted said, "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" as opposed to "Zenadine, my friend, you have always been my hero and I'm sorry about your mother being sick."
Friday, July 14, 2006
King Kaufman is my new hero
Only he could take a column about the headbutt heard around the world and use it to quote Monty Python: