Zinedine Zidane and World Cup 2006

Zinedine Zidane is a great footballer. I feel a great boatload of compassion for the guy, because I know exactly how it feels to allow someone to get under your skin, react to it with anger, and then realize that you've just blown it.

Although I have to admit, I've never blown it as big or as publically as Zidane did. His little slip-up (head-butting Italian midfielder Materazzi in the chest, hard enough to land the Italian on the grass) arguably cost not only himself, his team, and his country the world championship in the world's most popular sport, but it was watched on TV by over a billion human beings.


It's easy to be angry with Zidane if you're French. But remember, he got you into the final to begin with. He made the French team sparkle the entire game (which, IMHO, was dominated by the French for most of the second half). Zidane giveth, Zidane taketh away.

I for one was at first angered by him. I felt that he had disparaged soccer with his antics. But on further reflection, that was not the case. Soccer would have suffered if referee Horacio Elizondo (who looked and acted the consumate professional referee) gave Zidane a red-card and asked to leave the game. Soccer showed it's class and it's spirit by handling the outburt properly. Indeed, I was gratified to see good sportsmanship throughout the remainder of over-time between French and Italian players. Everyone was a little embarassed by the whole thing, and I think it's fair to say that even the Italians would have preferred to win with Zidane on the field (but of course a win's a win!).

I am extraordinarily grateful to Zinedine Zidane. I thought I was the only one capable ruining lots of goodwill with one slip of self-control. Zidane was a playmaker, and a teammaker. And yet, in the end, he turned out to be flawed, human. That's gratifying.

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