Okay, so I have to modify my position on Zidane’s behavior as noted in yesterday’s post.  According to the New York Times, there are rumors that Materrazi invoked a racist slur against Zidane and his mother.  What this does is bring to the fore the fact that European soccer has a problem with race and it can, in cases, extend from coaching staff all the way down to the fan and player level.  It’s not secret that players of African descent in particular have been subjected to horrible abuse by European fans.

I can certainly understand the desire to response physically to such an incident.  On one hand, I don’t condone violence.  However, if a racist slur was uttered, it needs to be made very clear to the person who did so that they are free to think and feel whatever they like: But keep your effin’ mouth shut.  Sometimes actions speak louder and more directly than any nuanced conversation can.

Having grown up as he did–an Algerian in France–I can’t imagine that Zidane hasn’t experienced his fair share of slurs.  And, if someone has so little respect for you that they feel free to disrespect your mother to your face, then they should also feel free to accept the consequences of those actions.  Perhaps winning a sporting event became less important to Zidane than letting somebody know that they need to keep certain opinions to themselves.

If a racist slur was involved, then hooray for Zidane for drawing the line.

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Posted by Rob Fields

  • Well dude, we will soon find out what was said as Zidane himself will speak on French TV Canal + at 8 pm tonite (French time)

  • athena

    Well, you ought to be more precise in the way you quote. The article you linked talks of the Spanish and Italian leagues respectively, not about ALL European leagues tout court.
    In Germany’s premier league, for instance, there are no such abuses. The way African teams were wildly supported by German fans during this World Championship also hardly squares with your words. When there where incidents of racist abuse at the WC, they, once again, originated from Spanish fans. Cf. http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-669420,36-789276@51-787853,0.html and http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2006/5127374.stm

  • pillow
  • Rob Fields

    Athena, thanks for bringing this to my attention. You’re right that I should be more precise in my use of language. Of course, not all European football fans are racist, and I apologize for making such a broad generalization without any context. So, here’s the context: There is a problem with racism in football, which is evidenced by the existence of FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) of which the British outfit Kick It Out is a member. In fact, as late as last year, the Christian Science Monitor did a piece on racism in football and cited incidents (including anti-Semitic remarks) in countries such as the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. To your point, however, the article does state that “Spain, Italy and Eastern Europe are often singled out as the worst bastions of racist crowd behavior.”
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0512/p07s01-woam.html
    Also a great piece from USA Today prior to the start of this year’s World Cup:
    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/worldcup/2006-06-01-intolerance-cup_x.htm
    Also, I’m sure you’re aware that today Materazzi admitted to insulting Zidane. Whether or not it was a racist slur, we’ll probably never know.
    Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

  • Rob Fields

    Thanks, Pillow. The seriousness of the race issue notwithstanding, it’s also good to see a humorous take on the situation.

  • A faint victory for Azzurri

    Materazzi is probably a hero now in his head, and amongst some italian tifozi. Indeed he had scored a magnificent equalizer, just as good a goal as Zidanes palenkabut he will go down in history as Maderazzi, the one who taunted and insul…