Why Zidane Head-Butted

This may well be old news to many of you, but it’s the first I’ve seen of a plausible explanation for why Zinedine Zidane head-butted Marco Materazzi. According to this British TV interview (via YouTube) with Alex Hayes of the French newspaper L’Equipe, Materazzi happened to call Zidane’s mother a whore on the very day she’d been taken to the hospital gravely ill. Hayes also said that Materazzi’s presumed insult/s probably weren’t racial, and that even if they were, that’s the kind of thing Zidane (and, I’m guessing, any non-white soccer player in Europe) is very accustomed to hearing.


zbicyclist

I'm wondering about your use of the term "non-white".

Here's a picture:
http://www.planete-eolienne.fr/tendances.html

If he's "non-white", what is he?

qualityg

SJD,
SJD,

As hard as it would seem I would have preferred he won the game, then went into Italy's locker room and then head-butted (I call them "Coco-Butts" in honor of the great wrestler Bobo Brazil) the mozzarella out of Materazzi in front of his Mama Mia.

qg

pkimelma

I have no idea why you say non-white. I can assure you that David Beckam has heard this in most European languages along with insults to his wife and anyone else they can think of that could rile him. Soccer players try to psych each other out, just like in American sports, and they use the same common insults (many learn the insults in multiple languages). Obviously, Materazzi did not know Zidane's mother went to the hospital; but even that is no excuse for Zidane's overreaction to a common tactic in professional soccer.

philleto

I believe Zidane's Algerian which means he's African. Zidane needs an education on mama jokes. Now that he's retired he can rent the entire Def Jam Comedy Jam series.

autiger

I think it is important to remember that this is not the first time that Zidane has head-butted someone. I suppose that this is the move he chooses. Also, he is Algerian, and in France, Algerians are often victims of racism, often being called terroist.

mathking

If you take non-white to mean not of European ancestry, Dubner's comment about racist comments being common is perfectly reasonable. Racist talk in Euro soccer is prevalent enough that FIFA this year (finally) felt compelled to make it clear to players and to national federations that racist comments would be grounds for suspension. The kinds of racial comments common in European football are actually not of the sort you would hear in U.S. sports. Aside from the fact that you would get suspended and fined for making the same kinds of racial comments in most U.S. pro leagues, you would probably also get beat up, quite likely by your teammates.

That said, I too think a comment about his mother is still not an excuse to head butt. Zidane has a really nasty temper and has gotten in trouble for this kind of thing in the past. I also think the "everybody does it" defense offered by Materazzi is pretty lame too. Everyone doesn't do it. Both of them acted poorly. Zidane certainly deserved to be sent off and further sanctions.

Read more...

douglaskarr

So, internationally:
If you physically attack, it's not okay to physically attack back.
If you kidnap, it's not okay to physically attack.
If you kill innocents, it's not okay to physically attack.
If you prepare to kill innocents, it's not okay to physically attack.

But...

If you are verbally attacked, it's okay to do physical harm.

What a strange world we live in.
Doug

Princess Leia

It would be hard to concentrate if I was worried about my mom -- emotional stuff can take the most energy.

Apart from that however, Zidane should be used to it... no one taught my then 6-year girl how to trash talk while on defense, but for some reason, it happened and continues to happen, quite spontaneously (and despite off-field reprimands)... nothing racist, but still very nasty in a Britney Spears sort of way.

douglaskarr

Perryair,

I chose the extreme comparison on purpose.

I do not feel the use of force was necessary in this conflict. I do not believe that there was any benefit from it. Do you think that Materazzi learned his lesson from this? I think not. He won the World Cup, perhaps in part because of the terrible things that he said. So... there was a positive benefit to his negative behavior.

Social policing is a worthy method. A head-butt is not social policing.

With Respect,
Doug

toml

The guy snapped. This happens to all sorts of people in all sorts of high-stress situations. As a pro athlete, maybe he could be expected to control it better, but maybe not. We've all seen athletes lose it. It was unfortunate for him, but also not unprecedented for him. Materazzi knew it and was deliberately pushing his buttons, but I'll bet no one was more surprised than him that it worked. For this alone, Materazzi goes straight into the Trash-Talking Hall of Fame.

zbicyclist

I'm wondering about your use of the term "non-white".

Here's a picture:
http://www.planete-eolienne.fr/tendances.html

If he's "non-white", what is he?

qualityg

SJD,
SJD,

As hard as it would seem I would have preferred he won the game, then went into Italy's locker room and then head-butted (I call them "Coco-Butts" in honor of the great wrestler Bobo Brazil) the mozzarella out of Materazzi in front of his Mama Mia.

qg

pkimelma

I have no idea why you say non-white. I can assure you that David Beckam has heard this in most European languages along with insults to his wife and anyone else they can think of that could rile him. Soccer players try to psych each other out, just like in American sports, and they use the same common insults (many learn the insults in multiple languages). Obviously, Materazzi did not know Zidane's mother went to the hospital; but even that is no excuse for Zidane's overreaction to a common tactic in professional soccer.

philleto

I believe Zidane's Algerian which means he's African. Zidane needs an education on mama jokes. Now that he's retired he can rent the entire Def Jam Comedy Jam series.

autiger

I think it is important to remember that this is not the first time that Zidane has head-butted someone. I suppose that this is the move he chooses. Also, he is Algerian, and in France, Algerians are often victims of racism, often being called terroist.

mathking

If you take non-white to mean not of European ancestry, Dubner's comment about racist comments being common is perfectly reasonable. Racist talk in Euro soccer is prevalent enough that FIFA this year (finally) felt compelled to make it clear to players and to national federations that racist comments would be grounds for suspension. The kinds of racial comments common in European football are actually not of the sort you would hear in U.S. sports. Aside from the fact that you would get suspended and fined for making the same kinds of racial comments in most U.S. pro leagues, you would probably also get beat up, quite likely by your teammates.

That said, I too think a comment about his mother is still not an excuse to head butt. Zidane has a really nasty temper and has gotten in trouble for this kind of thing in the past. I also think the "everybody does it" defense offered by Materazzi is pretty lame too. Everyone doesn't do it. Both of them acted poorly. Zidane certainly deserved to be sent off and further sanctions.

Read more...

douglaskarr

So, internationally:
If you physically attack, it's not okay to physically attack back.
If you kidnap, it's not okay to physically attack.
If you kill innocents, it's not okay to physically attack.
If you prepare to kill innocents, it's not okay to physically attack.

But...

If you are verbally attacked, it's okay to do physical harm.

What a strange world we live in.
Doug

Princess Leia

It would be hard to concentrate if I was worried about my mom -- emotional stuff can take the most energy.

Apart from that however, Zidane should be used to it... no one taught my then 6-year girl how to trash talk while on defense, but for some reason, it happened and continues to happen, quite spontaneously (and despite off-field reprimands)... nothing racist, but still very nasty in a Britney Spears sort of way.

douglaskarr

Perryair,

I chose the extreme comparison on purpose.

I do not feel the use of force was necessary in this conflict. I do not believe that there was any benefit from it. Do you think that Materazzi learned his lesson from this? I think not. He won the World Cup, perhaps in part because of the terrible things that he said. So... there was a positive benefit to his negative behavior.

Social policing is a worthy method. A head-butt is not social policing.

With Respect,
Doug

toml

The guy snapped. This happens to all sorts of people in all sorts of high-stress situations. As a pro athlete, maybe he could be expected to control it better, but maybe not. We've all seen athletes lose it. It was unfortunate for him, but also not unprecedented for him. Materazzi knew it and was deliberately pushing his buttons, but I'll bet no one was more surprised than him that it worked. For this alone, Materazzi goes straight into the Trash-Talking Hall of Fame.