“If you can keep your head…”

Yes, yes – Zinedine Zidane disgraced himself and besmirched his sparkling career by savagely headbutting Italian defender Marco Matterazi in the chest in the 109th minute of Sunday’s World Cup final. (So savage it didn’t look to me, especially since the Italians are notorious for subscribing to the Greg Louganis school of foul emphasis, but you decide.)

Zidane’s pate punch has inspired much peculiar psycho-socio eulo-babbling and consensus opinion has it that Matterazi must have said something very, very bad to Zidane as they jogged up-field to provoke the attack. (I would have thought that simply pointing out he was French would be insult enough, but that’s just me.) Zidane has so far kept stum but the good people of the Times of London, showing typical English pluck in trying to find out what naughty thing was said, brought in lip-readers and translators to study the footage. Their verdict: Matterazi called the Algerian-descended Zidane “the son of a terrorist whore.” Not being privy to international pitch-level banter, I’m not sure how egregious such an insult should be considered, but if true it sounds like some pretty ignorant, racist bullshit to me, making Zidane’s reaction understandable, if not excusable. Matterazi denies it, but in the words of the immortal Mandy Rice-Davies, “well ‘e would, wouldn’t ‘e.”

The real disgrace, as far as this humble correspondent is concerned, is that yet another world cup final was decided on penalties. While it may seem terribly dramatic for a game to be decided in a best of five penalty shootout, where a matter of inches can determine the outcome, they are, in fact, hella lame. Instead of a desperate struggle for eternal glory you get a bunch of tuckered-out millionaires crouched on the the sideline sucking their water bottles like babies at the teat as a lone teammate on the pitch tries not to screw up.

And I’m not just saying this because England have set world records in penalty shootout shambollockry. Penalties are always a let-down. It’s as if after ten rounds of two magnificent prize fighters wailing on each other, each one is held in place while the other gets five clear shots at his chin. There’s something deeply unsatisfying about the whole thing. French coach Raymond Domenech even said he considered a game that ends in penalties a draw (see above – Davies, Mandy-Rice). Indeed, the Italians seemed to be playing not to lose throughout extra time so they could try and win on penalties. The incentives are all wrong.

Put simply, the penalty shootout should be abolished. International super stars should be forced to play until someone claims decisive victory by the scoring of an actual goal. They should be forced to play until their studs are worn to nubs and their entire team is Beckham-ing where they stand. If scoring is such a problem, extra time could see the goalies sent off. That would make for some exciting final moments I’d wager.

Explore posts in the same categories: Hooliganism

One Comment on ““If you can keep your head…””

  1. EV Says:

    “hella lame”?

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