Sunday, July 09, 2006

Forza Azzurri !!

This is one day where I am most proud of my half-Italian heritage. The World Cup championship was decided today; ending in a shootout where Italy emerged victorious. In 1998, Italy was upset by France in a similar fashion. And today, the score was evened.

At the game-watching party, I was one of only three fans of the Azzurri. When the final penalty kick sailed past the French goalie and into the net, we three celebrated with high-fives and heartfelt cheers for our team across the globe, while our friends, the supporters of France, looked on in dismay.

Victory is sweet.

I must say, however, that I am very surprised at the lack of indignance at Zinedine Zidane's blatant, malicious attack on Italy's Marco Materazzi. With one enraged head-butt, Zidane levelled Materazzi to the ground. And for what ? A simple two-second arm-grab when neither of them were near the ball ? I don't get it.

This article puzzles me the most. Soccer is a tough sport, granted, and many of its players do their fair share of diving and whining. But there is simply no excuse for this unsportsmanlike behavior, especially not by a prominent player such as Zidane. He should be ashamed of himself.

That head-butt, and the resulting red card, ended his otherwise-successful international competition career with Les Bleus. But what a terrible legacy to leave to his fans; that of a superstar who could not control his temper, and ruthlessly attacked a member of the opposing team for no reason.

Was it the difference in the game ? We will never know. But that one moment of complete lunacy will forever be etched in the minds of all who follow this sport.

Shame on you, Zidane. I hope you are man enough to apologize, and sincerely so - not just to the unfortunate target of your unbridled anger, but to your fans and to your team. You completely let them down. Hope you have the guts to admit it.


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