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Holding Our Attention - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Holding Our Attention
For those of you who have been following the furor surrounding the expulsion of French star Zinedine Zidane from the World Cup Final, this compilation of career highlights does a pretty good job of indicating just how good he could be. The first few minutes devoted purely to his ability to keep possession of the ball surpass the usual goal-directed clips. As a native of the United States, I think it's intriguing that his misdeed may have done more to keep soccer on people's minds than in-game heroics might have. I mean, the World Cup ended on Sunday and its still getting prominent coverage.

Perhaps it's for the wrong reasons, but I at least get the sense that more and more Americans are starting to understand what a huge deal futbol is everywhere else in the world. I mean, I already had that impression during the games I watched in public places. But the Zidane story's legs have powerfully reinforced it. I should also add that the Luc Besson-penned film, District B-13, which I saw last night at the Loft, was the perfect post-World Cup viewing, since it offers a dystopian vision of the sort of housing projects Zidane grew up in, together with a grim portrait of the Establishment's attitude towards them. It was hard not to think of him as I became absorbed in the picture's comic-book narrative.

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From: catfishvegas Date: July 13th, 2006 06:59 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I agree he's done more to keep soccer (futbol) on the minds of Americans than pretty much anything else throughout the course of the Cup...
But consider this (from the perspective of one who has never followed the sport and couldn't give a damn even during its highest peak):
I'd never heard of the guy until his jackassery made him the goat of the Cup.
Sure, he didn't outright lose the championship, but to end a celebrated career in such a disgraceful manner makes hims the Ultimate Goat of sports.
I've read a lot about it since then and the nuances are captivating (and instructive), but as far as an immediate reaction from a non-fan goes, Zidane's headbutt couldn't have done more to permanently turn me off the sport.
Just imagine if a never-ringed, sure-to-be-hall-of-famer like Karl Malone punched some shit-talker in the fourth quarter of game seven... or if in 2001 Randy Johnson plunked a shit-talker to drive in the game seven winning run...
I don't know if there really are parallels in purely American sports, so I can only guess...
But if Zidane's headbutt makes Americans start to understand more what a huge deal futbol is in the rest of the world, it may only be so that we may chuckle about it even more. From soccer houligans in England to racially influenced riots in France (though not soccer related an easy tie-in given the rumors surrounding the Zidane provocation), soccer limelight might only fuel the ill-informed American's inflated arrogance.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 13th, 2006 07:07 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Do you think? In my experience there are a lot of red-blooded males in this country who like sports where fighting is par for the course. That's why the NHL is still alive after losing a season. I suppose I'm wondering whether you're too high-minded to serve as a stand-in for the average American sports fan. Besides, the whole "I did it out of a sense of honor" take, which has gotten a good deal of play in the media, appeals to that latent Western-loving moralist in us. Or in me, anyway.
From: catfishvegas Date: July 13th, 2006 07:29 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
In terms of your premise, my reply is more devils-advocatey than I generally tend to be.
But to be honest my first reaction to that head-butt (which I saw in a late-game replay - my brother was watching it while I was in my room listening to a Dylan XM show) was a chuckle.
I could see how a lot of Patriotic American Sports Fans could dismiss him entirely with a chuckled "dipshit" (or "French Dipshit" or even in a redder-blooded American style "Immigrant Frog Dipshit).
I guess my point is that from a different perspective, it's a shame that the warrior's heat-of-the-moment passion could just as easily fuel more ridicule or indifference for the sport.
Through the lens of someone pre-disposed to dislike France, or to harp on its history of military failure as a Patriotic honor badge, the World Cup in general and Zidane's head-butt in specific just might form the perfect gotcha scenario - "Screw France and screw soccer entirely."
Like I said, more of a devil's advocate perspective than I like to take, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Anyway, my most interesting thought on the World Cup was to wonder when the championship match was last between two countries that shared a border...
yourbestfiend From: yourbestfiend Date: July 13th, 2006 08:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I kept saying they should have upped the geopolitical stakes: whoever wins gets Marseilles back!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 13th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
And a headbuttload of hashish to go with it. . .

(Though I can't imagine that Walter Benjamin was very into Fußball.)
yourbestfiend From: yourbestfiend Date: July 13th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Coming from someone who was sitting in a room full of red-blooded males (although, I'll admit, of the Left Coast Liberal persuasion), the two major thoughts on our minds after The Head-Butt were: 1) "What the *fuck* could Matarazzi have said to inspire such a deliberate show of anger from Zidane?" and 2) "It must have been pretty bad if Zidane was willing to risk the WORLD FREAKIN CUP in order to defend himself." The American footie fans I know are pretty slavishly devoted to the sport, and those of us (like me) who are recent Cup-converts were probably just excited to no end about the drama of it all, rather than turned off (in fact, I can't remember the last time I was *so* turned on by television, but THAT has everything to do with the fit of soccer uniforms on the male body generally and has nothing to do with fisticuffs).

If what I've been reading is true about the content of Matarazzi's slur, then I'm almost tempted to give some props to Zidane - not necessarily for taking the high road, cause that's certainly not what he did - but I, too, have a weakness for that whole French honor thing. If I were in that situation, I'd be pretty hard-pressed not to just go all out and sock the guy in the jaw.

(And yeah - have you WATCHED the NHL lately? Those guys almost seem like they'd rather be punching than playing!)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 13th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's kind of how I saw it. It was pretty gangsta of him, but he is from the French equivalent of the Hood. Some of his supporters from his childhood environs actually stated that they were glad to see that the money and fame hadn't deprived him of that honor-over-compromise we're familar with from hip-hop culture. Besides, I realized that there are people I really want to head butt!
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: July 13th, 2006 07:17 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
An informed friend of mine told me today that Z perpetrated his crime because an Italian player insulted his mother, saying something about how his mom is a terrorist. I hope my friend sends me the link to the article she found. If so, I'll pass it along.
From: catfishvegas Date: July 13th, 2006 05:32 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Zidane's Head-Butt the Rage on the Web
NEW YORK (AP) - The head-butt: It's the new butt of Internet jokes. As swiftly as a speeding shot on goal, riffs on Zinedine Zidane's infamous moment of soccer rage have invaded cyberspace. Though fans across the world are clearly divided on whether the French star deserves condemnation or sympathy for head-butting an Italian opponent in the World Cup final, the Web has been typically merciless.


The You Tube bit is really funny...
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 13th, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes! Frankly, though, I'd take a headbutt over a gunshot anyday.
From: maruta_us Date: July 14th, 2006 12:48 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Zidane and gunshots

Bruce Jenkins of the Chronicle bogusly compared Zidane's headbutt to pulling a gun and wrung his hands over "such violent retaliation"--typical of the shame, disgrace, dishonor chorus.


cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 14th, 2006 04:20 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Zidane and gunshots

But the sports reporters were delighted when Nolan Ryan put a headlock on Robin Ventura. One word: hockey.
From: maruta_us Date: July 14th, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Zidane and gunshots

Yeah. I don't recall U.S. sportswriters getting so worked up about all the Hack-a-Shaqing, groin punching and groin pulling in the NBA playoffs (Jason Terry, Reggie Evans...) I thought Zidane's statement...

"There was a serious provocation," Zidane said. "My act is not forgivable. But they must also punish the true guilty party, and the guilty party is the one who provokes."

was pretty well thought out and better than standard fare, whereas most sports commentators I've heard are giving it raspberries. Anyway, Materazzi's getting interviewed by FIFA today; that should be interesting...
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 14th, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Zidane and gunshots

I mean, the whole code-of-honor thing may seem reactionary, but at least it's based on something other than the desire to win a game. I can respect his integrity, even if I wish he had found a more indirect way of responding to the provocation.
From: catfishvegas Date: July 13th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The World Cup final has been a match between neighboring countries three previous times.
Most recently, West German defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in 1974.
In 1950, Uraguay defeated Brazil 2-1 in the Cup’s decisive match, though not technically a final.
In the inaugural 1930 World Cup, Uraguay defeated Argentina 4-2.

Uraguay is the world’s only country to have defeated all of its neighbors in a World Cup final. Viva!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 13th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
schencka From: schencka Date: July 14th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


He should've just won the game.

I was very into the World Cup, because of the intensity of the games (except for the ones w/ the US squad).
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 14th, 2006 04:42 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: ZZ

Well, yeah. But he'd already had a good shot to win it a few minutes before. It was likely to come down to PKs anyway.
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