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Football becomes a metaphor – II July 16, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in America, geo-politics, sport.

Continuing from my previous post – here is an example of how different commentators around the world are looking at Zidane’s headbutting act and this is some way again brings out essential differences in national cultures.

France – philosophical reflection, idealism, larger than life :

In France, psychologists appeared on talk shows to ponder his motivations. Fear of success? Fear of failure? Childhood trauma? Even before Zidane spoke out, the iconic French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy wrote in the French press of the “suicide” of a “demigod,” calling Zidane a “super-Achilles” who was humanised by a headbutt instead of a vulnerable heel.

Many intellectuals saw a certain grandeur in Zidane’s act — a gesture of tragic or existential revolt against the huge weight of expectation the world had thrust upon his shoulders.

In England – stiff upper lippish reaction

Some commentators have not been so keen to overlook the transgression –seeing in Zidane’s act the morality of the vendetta, an outdated sense of honour and machismo that has oppressed women for millennia.

Mick Hume of the Times of London bridled at the suggestion that the headbutt was anything but an act of thuggery.

“It is a sign of the strange times how many big moral debates now seem to be about the antics of footballers. Apologists for Zinedine Zidane have wasted the week trying to read some higher meaning into his assault, claiming it as a righteous blow [against] racism, colonialism and Islamophobia,” he wrote.

Finally Americans : “This has got to help us lead happier, more fulfilling lives”

Soccer coaches in American suburbs — a world apart from the rough immigrant neighbourhood in Marseille where Zidane grew up and learned the sport — have held talks with kids about how to deal with anger on the field.



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