No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More than just trash talk: Zidane loses it

Italy won the World Cup final a few days ago now, but Sunday's game remains stubbornly in the headlines thanks to a single interaction near the end of the match. French captain Zinedine Zidane was red carded (to the non-football-savvy, that means he was thrown out of the game) for executing a seemingly unprovoked headbutt to the chest of Italian defender Marco Materazzi.

In the closing minutes of a well-played World Cup final, France's football hero just lost it. After coming out of retirement to play in a final World Cup, and playing well enough to win the Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player, Zidane ended his career on the sidelines as his team lost in a shootout. It wasn't the first time Zidane was kicked out of an international game, but it was certainly the most dramatic.

The question on everyone's mind, then, is what could possibly have caused Zidane to act in such manner. What could Materazzi possibly have said to Zidane that would make him forget the game, his reputation and all hope of victory? The British tabloids have paid lip-readers to try to figure it out. A Paris-based anti-racism advocacy group thinks they know the answer: sources tell them that Materazzi called Zidane a "dirty terrorist". That's a hot-button accusation to make against anyone these days, but Zidane, the French-born such of Algerian immigrants, would be particularly sensitive to such a horrible slur: the Algerian-based terror group GIA has tormented France for the past 10 years. To attempt to associate Zidane with their actions is both cruel and racist.

Trash talk has been around as long as sport, but it seems to have grown in its strategic importance. Players from Kobe Bryant to Darcy Tucker taunt their opponents, goading them into making a mistake. It seems clear that Materazzi was doing the same thing. But what is fair game in trash talk? Sheldon Kennedy acknowledged that many NHLers knew he had been abused by his junior hockey coach before it became common knowledge to the rest of us. Despicably, some players would use that knowledge to taunt Kennedy on the ice. Surely, some things should be unspoken. But in the world of higher, faster, stronger, it seems there are no limits.


Post a Comment

<< Home