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The Zidane mystery.

I can’t find a decent explanation anywhere of why the #1 soccer player in France would headbutt another player in the final moments of the big game. This is as good as any: “the lofty hermeneut within me saw it as the supreme existentialist gesture—le grand refus—at the very moment of being inducted into multicultural sainthood by Chirac.” Barry Yourgrau: Oh, Zidane, Zidane, What Have You Done?

BTW, video (the only source, thanks to the uptightness of FIFA) is here in a highlights clip, about 1’30” from the start.


  1. Gary B

    Here’s a bit of a more detailed explanation – I’m sure whether or not he’s a hero can be debated: http://www.kottke.org/06/07/the-zidane-headbutt

  2. Dylan

    I’ve read other accounts that the Italian player said something racist to Zidane … but whether he really did or not may be unprovable. I’m not sure I’d trust a lipreader to get that right.

    Still, people shout nasty, awful, racist things at soccer matches all the time. It’s shitty, but you’d think he would have gotten used to it by now — or at least a thick enough skin to hold on until the end of the game. That’s why I’m still a bit perplexed, even if that was what pissed him off.

  3. Jim Michalko

    Dylan, I happened to be in a London pub (designated French for the evening of the final – all the pubs self-identified with flags, thank heavens) and the French folks there all muttered about Algerian racist remarks being the root of his rage. But there wasn’t anybody who didn’t take it as the most idiotic, self-destructive thing they’d ever seen. Canonization will not happen.

  4. Dylan

    Strangely, as a non-soccer fan, I find Zidane’s outburst a bit endearing. We’re used to sports professionals at the top of their game being so completely in control that they’re almost robotic. It’s strange, and in a way exhilarating, to see someone at that level do something so inexplicable and clearly personal. Self-destructive, yes. But in another way, reassuringly human.

  5. Scot Hacker

    Also, to an American, there’s something quasi-comical about the head-butt. We just don’t do that here, probably because soccer isn’t part of our language and so athletes aren’t used to using their heads (sorry). A bit quaint, a bit funny, and for that reason, I think the stunning power of Zidane’s headbutt took a lot of us by surprise.

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