And The ‘War On Terror’
By Gabriele Zamparini
12 July, 2006
“The France legend, playing
in his final match before retirement, was dismissed in extra-time for
chestbutting Italy's Marco Materazzi” the Guardian reported.
despicable, unfathomable act of violence” (1) has been unanimously
blamed as a “stupid reaction”, a “disgrace”.
“How sad that he should save the most shameful episode for the
final page of his story” wrote the BBC. (2)
Yes, but why? Why did the
34 year old experienced football player who has just been awarded the
Golden Ball as the best player at the World Cup do it?
Kevin McCarra wrote “there were suggestions last night that Materazzi
had called him ‘a terrorist’” [emphasis added] (3)
Only Zidane and Materazzi
know the truth and it would be interesting to know what they have to
say about these “suggestions”.
If they are confirmed, Zidane’s
gesture, far from being the “despicable, unfathomable act of violence”
will be seen as the only link to reality of this World Cup.
If these “suggestions”
are confirmed, that red card will tell a completely different story.
Still a “stupid reaction” according to the FIFA’s
rules maybe, Zidane’s act will be remembered as the most human
reaction to racism and hypocrisy. He won’t be anymore the fake
“hero” praised by the business-corrupted football circus
but something way far more important: a man of moral integrity who didn’t
sell himself and didn’t compromise for a golden cup, the money
coming from it and a glossed image a world of strangers enjoyed.
If the ‘war on terror’
played a role in the 2006 World Cup, Zidane’s answer is not a
disgrace but an act of courage that deserves to be acknowledged for
what it is.
If Italian football player
Materazzi really called Zidane ‘a terrorist’, FIFA should
strip Italy of the World Cup and leave the 2006 tournament without a
Whatever decision the FIFA
will take, people could still make their voice heard by boycotting the
Italian football team wherever and whenever will play.
Football – and not
only in Italy – doesn’t live by itself on a far away planet.
In times of ‘war on terror’ and ‘preemptive wars’,
Zidane’s gesture has the power of a strong and just call to reality.
If Italian football player
Materazzi really called Zidane ‘a terrorist’, Zidane’s
gesture should be seen for what it really represents: a political statement
directed to all of us.
The Guardian has just "updated"
"A red card rather than a greetings card ushered Zinédine
Zidane into retirement 19 minutes into extra-time. The captain was sent
off for reacting to a dispute with Marco Materazzi by turning and butting
the scorer of Italy's goal in the chest. He had surely been provoked
- there were suggestions last night that Materazzi had called him "a
terrorist" - but Zidane will be right to curse his stupid reaction."
A red card rather than a greetings card ushered Zinédine Zidane
into retirement 19 minutes into extra-time. The captain was sent off
for reacting to a dispute with Marco Materazzi by turning and butting
the scorer of Italy's goal in the chest. He had surely been provoked
but Zidane will be right to curse his stupid reaction.
That sentence - there were suggestions last night that Materazzi had
called him "a terrorist" - is no more in the article. And
no explanation is given.
That sentence - there were
suggestions last night that Materazzi had called him "a terrorist"
- after being deleted by the Guardian, is now back in the Guardian's
The Paris-based anti-racism
advocacy group SOS-Racism issued a statement Monday quoting "several
very well informed sources from the world of football" as saying
Materazzi called Zidane a "dirty terrorist." It demanded that
FIFA, soccer's world governing body, investigate and take any appropriate
MORE UPDATES AND BACKGROUND
FIFA will open a disciplinary
investigation into Zinedine Zidane's conduct in the World Cup final,
when he was sent off for head-butting Italy's Marco Materazzi.
World soccer's governing
body said Tuesday the incident had been spotted by the fourth official
without using a monitor, who then alerted referee Horacio Elizondo through
their communications system.
"FIFA will open a disciplinary
investigation into Zidane's conduct to enable it to clarify the circumstances
surrounding the incident as exactly as possible," FIFA said in
Zidane and Materazzi exchanged
words after Italy broke up a French attack in extra-time of Sunday's
final in Berlin. Seconds later, Zidane lowered his head and rammed Materazzi
in the chest, knocking him to the ground.
Zidane was sent off, reducing
France to 10 men. Italy won the game in a penalty shootout.
Referring to Zidane being
voted the player of the tournament by journalists, FIFA said the ballot
boxes remained open at the main media center in Berlin until midnight
on Sunday. The game was over by then.
"It is impossible to
determine how many journalists cast their votes before the match and
how many during it, as the ballot papers were not counted until after
the deadline for voting had expired," FIFA said.
Materazzi admitted he insulted
Zidane before the France captain head-butted him, but denied calling
him a "terrorist."
"I did insult him, it's
true," Materazzi said in Tuesday's Gazzetta dello Sport. "But
I categorically did not call him a terrorist. I'm not cultured and I
don't even know what an Islamic terrorist is."
The 32-year-old Inter Milan
player did not elaborate exactly on what he said to Zidane.
"It was one of those
insults you're told tens of times and that always fly around the pitch,"
FIFA to investigate Zidane's
head butt, AP, July 11, 2006
Lip readers employed by British
newspapers claim France captain Zinedine Zidane was sent off in the
World Cup final in retaliation for racist, vulgar comments by Italian
defender Marco Materazzi. (…)
The Times newspaper hired
Jessica Rees, whose skill has seen her summoned as an expert witness
at criminal trials, to study a tape of Sunday's match that saw Zidane
get a red card for his seemingly spontaneous assault.
"After an exhaustive
study of the match video, and with the help of an Italian translator,
Rees claimed Materazzi called Zidane 'the son of a terrorist whore'
before adding 'so just f*** off' for good measure," it said.
The Daily Mail, which wrongly
described Marseille's native Zidane as "Algeria-born", said
it had also engaged the services of a lip reader, whom it did not identify,
who reached the exact same conclusion as Rees.
The Independent cited lip
readers for Brazil's Globo television as concluding Materazzi had told
Zidane his sister was a "prostitute".
Paris-based anti-racism group
SOS Racisme says Materazzi apparently called Zidane a "dirty terrorist",
citing "several very well informed sources from the world of football".
Lip reader's take on Materazzi
insult, REUTERS, July 11, 2006
France has complained to
World Cup winner Italy about a right-wing senator's racist comments
that the defeated French team was made up of "blacks, Muslims and
communists", the Italian media reported on Tuesday.
Racism has already threatened
to cloud Italy's victory, with reports that Italian defender Marco Materazzi
provoked French star Zinedine Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants,
by calling him a "terrorist". Materazzi denies making such
There was no such denial
from Roberto Calderoli of the Northern League, who lost a ministerial
post in a centre-right government earlier this year for wearing a T-shirt
with cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad offensive to Muslims.
As the victorious Azzurri
returned to a heroes' welcome in Rome on Monday, Calderoli celebrated
it as a "political victory" over a mixed-race French team.
Italy had "beat a team
which, in the quest for results, sacrificed its own identity by selecting
blacks, Muslims and communists", the senator said, in comments
that were rejected by members of Italy's new centre-left coalition government.
Italian newspapers La Stampa
and Corriere della Sera quoted a letter of protest from French ambassador
Yves Aubin de La Messuziere to the Italian Senate, saying: "Such
unacceptable and despicable comments can only foment hatred."
"France is proud of
a team whose members are all its sons, whatever their origins or religion,"
he wrote, adding that some of the French players insulted by Calderoli
played in Italian teams "where they are very popular".
France angered by Italy senator's
racist soccer slur, REUTERS, Jul 11, 2006
“Italian defender Marco
Materazzi has for the first time acknowledged that he "insulted"
French player Zinedine Zidane because he was super arrogant in the World
Cup final, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Tuesday. (…) "I
held his shirt... for only a few seconds, he turned toward me and scoffed
at me, looking at me with super arrogance, up and down: 'if you really
want my shirt, you can have it later'. (Zidane said) It's true, I shot
back with an insult," the paper quoted Materazzi as saying. Asked
whether he had insulted Zidane's sister or mother, Materazzi said, it
was an "insult of the kind you will hear dozens of times and that
just slips out on the ground. I certainly didn't call him a terrorist;
I am ignorant, I don't even know what an Islamic terrorist is (…)
I certainly did not mention Zidane's mother; for me a mother is sacred."
Zidane arrogant – Materazzi,
AFP, 11 Jul 2006
Right now, we do not know
beyond a shadow of a doubt what was said but all the circumstantial
evidence points at least toward a variant of SOS Racisme’s claim.
Zissou is the son of Algerian immigrants who has sparred verbally with
Europe's far-right political machine for more than a decade. He is an
outspoken anti-racist on a team that has defined itself by its multiculturalism
and stubborn insistence to stand up against bigotry both inside and
outside the sport. Materazzi on the other hand, will be playing this
year for the Italian team Lazio, where his father was the former coach.
Lazio’s fan club, The Ultras, are notorious for their Fascist-friendly
politics. Lazio’s hardcore Ultras, known as the "Irriducibili,"
have members in Italy's extra-parliamentary far right and try to use
the club to recruit. The group has frequently used racist and anti-Semitic
banners, one time hanging a 50-foot banner that said their opponents
were a "team of niggers." It’s wrong to taint Materazzi
for the actions of Lazio’s fans, but there is more. Earlier this
season in a match that pitted Messina against Inter in Sicily, Messina's
star African player Marc Zoro famously picked up the ball and walked
off the pitch in protest of the monkey chants rained upon him by Inter
supporters. In a stirring act of solidarity, many of the Inter players
immediately showed support for Zoro’s actions. But one opponent
yelled, "Stop that, Zoro, you're just trying to make a name for
yourself." That opponent's name was Marco Materazzi.
Why Today I Wear My Zidane
Jersey, By Dave Zirin
Lazio is the club forever
associated with fascism. It was Mussolini's team and he was often seen
in the stands.
Footballer's 'fascist salute'
row, BBC News, 9 January, 2005
"I am a fascist, not
a racist. I made the Roman salute because it's a salute from a comrade
to his comrades and was meant for my people. With this stiff arm I do
no want to incite violence or racial hatred."
Di Canio 'fascist but not
racist', BBC News, 23 December 2005
1) Losing the plot. Zidane
was a disgrace, but it was Domenech who cost France the match, Rob Smith,
Guardian, 9 July 2006
2) Zidane's red mist, By
Phil McNulty, BBC News, 9 July 2006
3) Italy strike gold as Zidane
sees red, Kevin McCarra, Guardian, July 10, 2006
(*) Gabriele Zamparini is a writer, filmmaker and activist at http://thecatsdream.com