Zidanes infamous headbutt in the soccer World Cup final has
become a global Rorschach test in other words, a tool for
people the world over to read anything they want into the incident.
are those who see the headbutt as just deserts for excessive verbal
abuse, while others see it as unacceptable. I have even read articles
praising Zidane for his stand against racism. In another piece,
the author felt the retaliation was analogous to a justified jihad
against the West because Westerners are constantly provoking Muslims,
forcing them to react even when they do not want to.
the risk of starting an international incident, or simply dismissing
such writing as codswallop, there are three major problems with
this punditry. Firstly, no one knows what was said in the exchange
between the two players. Based on lip readers interpretations,
the UK Independent reported Zidanes sister was called a prostitute,
the Times claimed Zidane was called a son of a terrorist whore,
and the BBC suggested that Zindanes family was wished an ugly
death. The only thing this proves is that lip reading is not
an exact science.
even if Materazzi unleashed the mother of all insults, we should
not forget it is only a game. Sledging, for better or worse, is
part of it. Racism, if this was the cause of the Zidane incident,
should have no place on the pitch, but smashing someone to the ground
is hardly going to stop it. A man of Zidanes stature making
a statement after the game or starting a campaign would have had
much more impact.
I take exception to such a poorly executed headbutt getting such
coverage. According to Wikipedia, a headbutt is a strike with the
head, typically involving the use of robust parts of the cranium.
An effective headbutt, it adds, involves striking a sensitive area
with a less sensitive area, for example, landing ones forehead
on your opponents nose. Connoisseurs of the art of headbutting
probably see Zidanes striking of Materazzis chest as
a lame attempt to do damage. The ideal headbutt is infinitely more
this is my advice on how to perform the perfect headbutt. If you
want to hit a sensitive area, bomb and kill a few hundred civilians
in retaliation for two soldiers being taken hostage. Or, perhaps,
Materazzi, in retaliation for the use of overwhelming force against
him, could run into the crowd and kick a few spectators to death
to even the score. To add fuel to the fire, the US and the UK, aka
the self-appointed so-called neutral line judges, could raise their
flags, complaining that Materazzi and Zidane had nothing to do with
it anyway. Everyone knows, or so they claim while wiping the blood
of Iraqi civilians from their hands, that it was the goalkeepers
of Iranian and Syrian extraction who were offside. Fifa, the world
watchdog, could, in turn, spend weeks discussing another resolution
about headbutting, while the pitch erupts into anarchy.
said, these global headbutters extraordinaire would do well to remember
that Brad Parker, from Defend University, which specialises in self-defence,
is no fan of the headbutt. He warns it can damage the offender as
much as the victim.
can result in the brain bouncing off the inside of the skull, causing
a coup contra coup injury as the brain hits the front
of the skull, then rebounding off the back. How long will it take
before the headbutters of this world realise this simple fact: what
goes around comes around and pulverising your opponent hardly resolves
differences. In an act of defiance to all this aggression, I am
resorting to peaceful protest. I have printed a T-shirt with the
slogan Headbutt racism out of football! on it and am
going to chant Fight fire with fire at the next match
I attend. Im sure that will change everything.
more information on Foundations for Peace Network, see www.foundationsforpeace.org
Hamber writes the column "Look South": an analysis
of trends in global political, social and cultural life and its
relevance to South Africa on Polity, see http://www.polity.co.za/pol/opinion/brandon/.
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