Sticks and Stones and Zizou is still King!


When I was a kid we had this saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” But, that is an easy lesson for those who grow up as the majority class, who are not immigrants, or who have never been discriminated against. We may never know exactly what Materazzi said to Zidane, but my guess is that is was something racist or xenophobic. So, what lesson do we have to learn from this? In my mind, there is a very clear lesson. It doesn’t matter how great you are, insults still hurt. The World Cup which celebrates tolerance, multi-culturalism, and internationalism should not dethrown Zizou, but understand that even the greatest of the world’s stars is still subject to cheap, insenstive insults. The world is converging (just look at the make up of the French team), but there is still a long way to go. What is a horrible shame is that today the news media have depicted Zidane as someone who lost his cool under pressure, and yet Materazzi is a national hero. What are we valuing in society? How would you have reacted? Which side of the fence do you want to stand on? This is the sad reality of a politically incorrect Europe that permits racist remarks because it is always the offended that bears the responsibility for not being offended and the offender? Is clever? . . .

Whenever I argue in favor of political correctness in Europe, people tell me that “political correctness” is a hypocritical American phenomenon. That people should not be so senstive and take things so personally. When Luis Aragonés, Spain’s coach, tried to motivate one of his players by using racist slurs against France’s Henry, Aragonés justified his actions as a motivational technique. He said that some of his best friends were black and that he had no intention to offend. The Spanish press was not offended. No one is Spain really was at all.

My argument to Europeans is: just wait until you have a strong enough minority class to express just how offended they can be by such comments. Words DO HURT! If such racist or xenophobic remarks and insults are not really offensive, then why would one of the greatest European heros take such incredible offense as Zizou did yesterday evening? Zidane was wrong to use violence. But, maybe he should simply have walked off the field and told the press that his personal dignity was more important than winning another World Cup. Didn’t Mohammed Ali sacrfice years of his professional career for reasons of dignity? Zidane’s reaction was that certain things in life are more important than winning. Materazzi’s reaction was that winning is much more important than respect.

Which do you value?



Filed under Essays, Zizou

4 responses to “Sticks and Stones and Zizou is still King!

  1. Eric's brother

    I knew you would comment… and I really like your take. In agreement I would like to point out a few things- I didn’t find Zidane’s headbutt as “violent.” I thought it was against the “rules’ as it was a flagrant foul, but not really a violent act (that is not to say that I am against violence).

    In addition to the “Ali” reference… how about someone (or an event) even more apropo- 1936… Jessie Owens. This match was held in the same stadium. I think Jessie Owens proved a point by simply winning. Although society has come far since 1936 it is clear (not necessarily from this WC match) that we have far to go. Or consider what Tommie Smith and John Carlos did in Mexico in 1968- they won and wore the black glove. I think we would all be much happier if Zidane did something along those line.

    However, in the heat of the moment it is impossible to say what we would have done. But I do think Materazzi’s (sp) objective was to psyche Zidane out and to that end, he was successful.


  2. William

    Come on guys!!! You just don’t head-butt someone because of a racist slur. Especially not when it’s the most important day of your career and the world is watching you and supporting you. If players reacted this way every time they were heckled by racist players or fans, a ref would have to prepare a full deck of red cards before each game..

    As you know Eric, I was a Zidane worshipper (maybe not as passionate as you but close). If i’m writing in the past tense, it’s because i have lost all respect for our “héro national”. What Zidane did is simply unacceptable. End of story. It was a huge slap in the face of millions of adoring fans, an insult to his teammates and to his country, and an insult to all those kids out there who see him as a role model. Stop trying to justify these violent acts with wobbly “this-is-what-racism-does-to-you”.

    In anycase, apparently, the whole premise of your arguement is wrong. According to the french sport’s daily L’Equipe, Zidane snapped after Materazzi insulted his mother.

  3. Eric's brother

    I don’t disagree at all that the head-butt was a mistake. In fact, I think it was a huge mistake and sad way to end a career.

    I just think people are taking this too the extreme. Seems to me that to pass judgment on him as a person and to stop supporting someone based on one act is a bit over-the-top. But the press is the press.


  4. Pingback: Grave Error » La Resistance: It was fun while it lasted

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