A Headbutt On Racism

By Michael De Gale
mdegale@hotmail.com

Zidane's HeadbuttThe world gasped when Zinedine Zidane landed a devastating head butt squarely in the chest of Marco Materazzi during the final match of the 2006 World Cup game in Germany. What no one witnessed at that time was the psychological violence unleashed on Zidane, coloured athletes in every sport throughout their professional careers and peoples of colour the world over on a daily basis. Zidane’s head butt was not the source; it was the effect of racist behaviour that has been allowed to fester in professional sports and in society as a whole. It was a reaction to the cancer of racism that eats away at the moral fabric of societies, putting a strain on human relations and rendering harmonious co-existence among human beings virtually impossible.

It is easy to condemn Zidane for losing his cool in the final 10 minutes of his illustrious career. It is even easier to speak of the negative message his actions may have sent to the youths, but the fires that almost consumed France last summer had nothing to do with Zidane. However, if Zidane’s reaction to racists’ taunts was to lash out and that is the message that the youths embrace, then so be it. If they react violently, it is not because of Zidane, it is the pervasive system of racist conduct that refuses to acknowledge the humanity of mankind’s darker brothers

Malcolm X would have been proud of Zidane. He and history tells us that violence is the only language that racists’ understands. The world cup was a microcosmic representation of the world that placed human behaviour in the spotlight. I will not be surprised if taunting Zidane with racial epithets was not an integral part of the Italian strategy to win the much coveted title of World Cup champions. It is the story of life – men seeking gain at the expense of other men. Instead of making concerted efforts to eradicate the incendiary issues of race, religion and a myriad of contentious issues that divide people, politicians and other misleaders pay lip service while exploiting the needs, fears, hopes and desires of people to maintain power, profits and positions.

The world will never be free from racism if everyone remains silent and “dignified” in its presence. It is criminal for anyone to tolerate behaviour that diminished others and still reserve the right to dictate the victims’ response. At best, those who advocate restraint and speak of dignity are sadly mistaken. At worse, they do not have the best interest of the victims at heart. As racism becomes increasingly pervasive in the US, Germany and throughout the world, responsible Governments must act swiftly to eliminate this scourge otherwise the victims will take the matter into their own hands.

The main reason the US did not attack the USSR during the Cold War era was because of the distinct possibility of a devastating reprisal. By contrast, the US unilaterally attacked Iraq because they were certain that Iraq was in no position to retaliate. Now the US and Russia have established friendly relations while Iraq is currently under siege. Israel and Palestine provides yet another example where tyrants will unleash tyranny on those whom they perceive to be weak and therefore vulnerable.

I will not demonize Zidane for his conscious decision to retaliate in the face of psychological violence. In fact, in my eyes he has grown in stature. He has stood up when those with the power to end racism have often chosen to sit. How much longer must we endure the pain of racists’ actions and continue to turn the other cheek? How much longer must we suffer in silence as we try to maintain our dignity when our best efforts so far have been futile?

30 Responses to “A Headbutt On Racism”


  • NO SUPPORT HERE FOR WHITE MALE VIOLENCE

    Zidane is NOT Black and all he was supporting and promoting was more White Male Violence. Look where white male violence has gotten us today. It has gotten us arrogant White Male Domination (WMD). Black people should not be supporting White and Light-skinned folks being violent at all, especially when there is no absolute case of self defense. Also, nowhere in all of Zidane’s statements did he mention the racism against African footballers. Even if he did, that still would not have justified his violence.

  • From Ayinde’s point of view it would appear that colour has become the defining element by which justice is meted out. How Tragic.

  • Ayinde,

    Zindane, is of Algerian-Berber desecent. Despite his fair appearance he is NOT White, I would encourage you to read about the history of the Berber people before making this assumption. They do not consider themselves to be “White”and I’m pretty sure the Italian football team would agree.

    Zidane also has made statements regarding racism in football, not in his initial statement, but in subsequent interviews. He made reference to an Italian senator who was quoted as saying that France had disgraced themseleves by sending a team full of “Blacks, Muslims & Communists”

    Also, in many cultures it is one of the worst things you can say, to insult someone’s mother. While it is easy to say we should “turn the other cheek” in the face of a threat, it is entirely different when YOU are the one who is placed in the situation and it is YOUR mother, family, & culture that is being insulted.

    If what Materazzi said to Zindane was even close to the “terrorist whore” remarks that he allegedly said about Zindane’s mother, then I totally understand why he would react with violence.

    Turning the other cheek, in today’s climate simply means that both sides of your face will get beaten.

    Zidane did would he felt he had to do; he defended the honor of his mother, and I respect the brother for that.

  • A very provocative headline. I find it almost trite to suggest that a head butt on an opponent during a soccer match, is striking a blow against racism.

    The scourge of racism cannot be solved on a playing field that is not level. On account of racism, the majority of the world’s peoples are hungry, malnourished, dying from diseases that are too numerous to list, live in conditions that are not fit for human habitation, and are relegated to the bottom tier of universal society because of their level of economic development. Most have been forced into a type of sharecropping system devised by the IMF and the World Bank, whereby they would be forever in debt for loans they could not have afforded in the first place.

    On a daily basis in the US, racism is responsible for wrongful arrests and convictions, police brutality, substandard housing, differential access to educational and health resources, employment discrimination, hatemongering against non-European immigrants, and the threat of violence from white vigilantes such as the KKK, the Minutemen, the Neo-Nazis, the Skinheads, etc.

    The US media serve as the mouthpiece for a Congress, President and a Religious right wing of extremists who all sing from the same hymnal that in this land of boundless opportunity, anyone who is poor deserves to be in poverty. Not to mention that the racist Supreme Court is upholding the status quo and would rather even to push back the clock to just prior to the Civil War.

    As I see things, racism cannot be eradicated by spontaneous actions or symbolism. The complexities of racism require a collective, well-organized, conscious, and determined response of the world’s peoples.

  • Ayinde misses the larger picture.Rather than focus on Zidane agression in particular, more critical and analytical comments should have been directed at the Tricotheuses that run FIFA. Indeed, the truth of the matter is that FIFA has been slothful when it comes to severely reprimanding those who espouse racist beliefs, and who do so openly, too. Perhaps more attention will now be directed towards a cancerous part of European culture, one that has pervaded humanity well before the days of Hannibal.

  • Even assuming that the insult WAS racial, i don’t think the headbutt was a reasonable response. In professional sport, one of the key weapons is the mind, and Zidane, whatever we call his race, fell into a trap.

    Whatever he said, there’s nothing to suggest that the Italian player is himself a racist – his intention was to irritate an individual, not scorn a people. If he had all called Zidane’s female relatives nasty names, or tarred his entire people with the most heinous charges in the calendar, an experienced player would ignore it.

    Based on what obtains in even my neighbourhood basketball games, I have no doubt whatever that Zizou, and every other person who plays sport at his level gives and receives as a matter of course the worst insults that a mind can concoct. Calling Zizou’s reaction a blow against racism is short-sighted; instead here we have another excuse for someone to say: “see? non-whites can’t control themselves!”

    Also, i’m not sure Malcolm would approve; even he would admit violence has its place, and that if you’re going to play a game, you ought to play by the rules.

  • Racism is not limited to black and white just look at Trinidad and Tobago.
    The USA has nothng on T&T. The difference is that both camps do not know that they are prejudice.

  • How on earth does Zidane’s headbutt translate into an attack against racism? That analogy is a very silly attempt to justify Zidane’s behaviour on the field which had more to do with frustration and anger (possibly also due to the comments by the Italian player) than with his determination to demonstrate his stance against racism.

    First of all, Zidane is not Black and cannot truly get the Black experience in football. Thus, there was no real reason for Zidane to attempt to display heroism and lash out against the Italian player. Secondly, if Zidane was so concerned about combating racism, then why wait until his final stint in his football career? Why did he not utilize his popularity to address racism on the correct forum?

    Pray tell, what kind of psychological violence could have been unleashed on Zidane that can be compared with the direct and indirect forms of racism that Blacks face within their White teams or Black teams face when competing against other White teams? I am also certain that Zidane, ‘consciously’ or not has benefited from racism against Blacks in football and in his day to day life.

    Finally, Zidane’s decision to retaliate in the “face of psychological violence” was a very impulsive one which is evident in the footage. He was angered, because of the fact that the Italian player held him back from making his move on the ball. Understandable. But Zidane himself has employed these tactics in the game which seems to be common among most players in football and other sports. The response by the Italian player, even if it was racist in its intent only aggravated Zidane in the moment.

    Thus, Zidane’s reaction had nothing to do with addressing racism on the World Cup stage and simply displayed his true character to those who idolized him and thought of him as the ideal football role model.

  • Errol F. Hosein, your comment is based on your own distorted imagination and not what I wrote. Read what I wrote again and if that is all you come up with then so be it.

    Akan, I am quite familiar with the range of people who are considered Barbers. They range from dark-skin Black Africans, to Whites. Dark-skin Black Africans in northern African (which including Algeria), face tremendous racial discrimination from mixed light-skin and White Algerians. It does not matter how many choose to classify Zidane racially, to many of us he is White.

    I would not have even supported a dark-skin Black person reacting that way, but I would have understood the outrage if he was being racially taunted given the long-term systematic discriminations that dark-skin Blacks face, even in Algeria. But this issue is not a clear cut case of reacting to taunts either, Zidane’s reaction was also based on frustration over the match itself and not simply about some taunts.

    Zidane has a history of hot-temperedness and this latest incident exposed his serious character flaw. He should not be applauded for it.

    Peter Reginald, what larger picture am I missing? Did you expect me to write a book on the history of racism, and how racist the FIFA organization is in order to simply say Zidane did not strike a blow for racism. In fact he struck a blow in defense of White Male Violence (WMV) – the offspring of which is the White Male Domination (WMD) we have today.

  • Ayinde,
    You see the world in colours, I do not. You see racism in the context of black and white, I do not. Before you fly off the handle, give some thought to that.

  • To Ayinde:
    First and foremost, there are few professional sports today which can boast of the absence of violence. Also, while it is true that Zidane has exhibited bouts of violence in the past, in all seriousness, let us not make him out to be the vilest professional athlete in history. Besides, his reaction was based on an insult. In fact, one may argue that his behavior was far removed from cowardice; in no way did he behave like an epicine. As to the cancer that seems to torment your soul so much, White Male Domination, that is something that is forever present in the sphere of human existence; and, without question, seriously affects those individuals who are not of european origin. Ask the Palestinian people.
    Clearly, sociologicl and psychological reasons abound. However,there ia another reason, one that may help to explain the “larger picture,” and one that is not only applicable to whites,but helps to explain the behaviors of others, for example, some of the peoples people from Korea and Japan. As has been noted by the well known historian Zinn, he of Jewish extraction, “Physical difference is so gross a stimulus to human beings, cursed as they are by the gift of vision, that once it is latched onto as explanation for difference in personality, intelligence, demeanor, it is terribly difficult to put aside.”

  • Although Zinedine Zidane is of Algerian parenting and holds both French and Algerian nationalities, Zidane is a glorified Arab (and white to many people) privileged athlete with a temper that he has a history of displaying. He could not have achieved his mega star status on merit alone as few athletes have. He made it on privileges as well as skill. And when things did not go his way in the game, his anger got the best of him and he snapped, again.

    Here is an extract:

    Zidane’s red card was anything but unusual. He was sent off 14 times in his career at the club and international level. At the 1998 World Cup, he stomped on a Saudi Arabian opponent. Sitting out a two-match ban, he came back to score two goals against Brazil in the final. Five years ago with Juventus, he head-butted an opponent in a Champions League match against Hamburger SV after being tackled from behind.”

    http://www.wkrn.com/nashville/news/ap-the-zidane-mystery-what-set-him-off

  • Ayinde,

    I can’t accept the whole “White Male Violence” notion, beacause again Zidane is not White.

    If you want to continue to refer to him as such that is your perogative, though it is a lot like saying to Mariah Carey “I don’t care about your mixed heritage, you look White to me, so therefore you are White.”

    To Kae: The Berbers, while many had been historically Arabi-cized due to the spread of Islam, they are NOT Arabs, they have a distinct culture and a language called Tamazight.

    To: Ayinde: At the very least you must agree Zidane has an “ethnic identity” and if his ethnicity/heritage/culture was insulted, then you should extend the same level of understanding to him as you would to a Black player had they been similarly insulted.

    At any rate I think the main point of what the author of this topic is saying is that we should not be complacent, meek, or timid in our response to racist agression. I agree with that.

    Since the head butt incident occurred, I think the tide of public opinion has turned in Zidane’s favour, we forgive him, and we understand.

    I respect your right to your opinion, but seriously, if you were in that situation, would you really just walk away?

    Would you let someone hurl an egregious amount of disrespect at your mother, sister, or your people and simply ignore it?? And if so could you really live with your conscience afterwards?

    Just a thought…

  • Akan, if some think of Mariah Carey as white, it is indeed their prerogative. It matters not if she has Black/African ancestry. That is not how one’s race is defined. Race is based on phenotype or physical characteristics of the human specie. Physical features such as hair, skin colour, and facial appearance are all taken into consideration when defining one’s race. One’s genealogical history would indeed influence the race that one would be perceived. However, and this is especially in the case of persons of mixed ancestry, the racial characteristics of one ancestor may predominate in one’s gene composition leading to the individual being classified one way or another. Thus, if Zidane has essentially features as Whites, he is White…even if he doesn’t think of himself as White. Certainly, he has benefited from White/light skin privileges and his acknowledgement or lack thereof of his White appearance does not change this. This does not negate his racial/ethnic heritage and does not suggest that he cannot be a victim of prejudice either.

    Also, no where in Ayinde’s post has he suggested that Zidane lacks an ethnic identity. EVERYONE has an ethnic identity so clearly that is not the argument.

    Plus, the fact that everyone has an ethnic identity does not mean that every time someone else insults another based on ethnic differences means that people should vent physically. Do people not have the capacity to reason? Also, people of different races and ethnic backgrounds do not face the same levels of discrimination. This is a FACT. It is also a fact that dark-skinned, kinky hair, Black Africans, whatever their ethnicity, face and have faced the worst forms of discrimination and victimization known to man on a large-scale and systemic basis. Thus, it is quite UNDERSTANDABLE if they react physically to what they perceive as racial insults/threats because at the end of the day, they are victims of institutionalized white racism and there is no escaping this. This does not mean that is acceptable for them to react, say the way Zidane did, but there is a stronger argument in favour of a dark-skin person reacting that way…especially in football.

    Akan said: “Would you let someone hurl an egregious amount of disrespect at your mother, sister, or your people and simply ignore it?? And if so could you really live with your conscience afterwards?”

    Insults to one’s family or race can be quite hurtful. But if one chooses not to respond violently does not mean that they are ignoring or not dealing with the issue. If you take your time and think about this, you may be able to come up with other ways of dealing with forms of disrespect. I am a victim of institutionalized racism and other forms of biases and I have been disrespected by the ignorant for one reason or another. I have never reacted in a violent manner to deal with such. My conscience is clear.

    P.S
    No one is making Zidane out to be, “…the vilest professional athlete in history”. This is purely a discussion about his violent outburst and it being regarded as a “head butt on racism”. Also, stating that, “…there are few professional sports today which can boast of the absence of violence” does not justify Zidane’s actions or the puerile defence of it.

  • Zidane apologists need to be taken head-on after his inexcusable act

    _________________

    “What exactly was said between the two remains a mystery although Materazzi has denied allegations he called Zidane a ‘dirty terrorist’.

    ‘I used an insult that I’ve heard used a dozen times and which is heard all the time on the pitch,’ Materazzi told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper when asked whether he had insulted Zidane’s sister.

    ‘I certainly did not call him a terrorist: I’m ignorant, I don’t even know exactly what an Islamic terrorist is … I also certainly didn’t say anything about Zidane’s mother: for me, a mother is sacrosanct.'”
    http://soccernet.espn.go.com

    _________________

    “Zidane and Materazzi have given their respective sides to the story. Nothing was said regarding, race, ethnicity, religion or politics. Zidane said Materazzi said something offensive about his “mother and sister.” Materazzi said he said something offensive about his sister, but not his mother because he himself lost his mother at age 15. The bottom line is that this was merely trash-talking on the pitch. It is done every day with every sport. The bottom line is that there is simply no excuse for Zidane’s disgraceful head-butt.”
    Zidane a victim of racism? Maybe—but not so fast

  • Ayinde: T o judge a person’s ethnicity solely on the basis of their physical appearance could often lead to the wrong conclusion, For example, at a glance or even an intense stare, one would conclude with absolute certainty that Morgan Job is definitely a Black man. However, that would be extremely misleading as his writings and frequent diatribes clearly indicate. The point is, as Akan has painfully pointed out, that Zidane is of Algerian-Berber descent, born and grew up poor in a ghetto in France, embraces his Berbian-Algerian heritage and continues to support a charitable organization in the ghetto where he was born. To my knowledge he is viewed as an African and has never attempted to “pass” for white. In fact, it is alleged that he has been called the “N” word on more than one occasion. For those who insist on seeing Zidane as white for the sake of compromise, let’s call him a honourary Black.

    John: It is indeed “trite” to suggest that a head butt could put down racism for the count. In my opening sentence, I said “the world gasped”, surely you do not think that the earth as we know it responded with a “gasp”. FYI, Adam did not literally eat an apple in the Garden of Eden. Please try not to be so literal. Nonetheless, by placing that head butt on Materzazzi in the presence of over a billion viewers, Zidane has catapulted the issue of racism and the use of derogatory language in sports unto the world stage. Perhaps now FIFA, other sports governing bodies and progressive Govt’s will take a strong stance against the “…isms” that create hostility between human beings.

    For those who argue that Zidane’s actions was not sportsmanlike, then show me the rules book where it says that it is OK to denigrate a player or to call a mans’ mother “a terrorist whore.”

    We spend so much time concerning ourselves with what others will say and trying not to fit the stereotype. To quote Joey, “see!” non-whites can’t control themselves.” To my mind that is reverse psychology and mind control. It ensures that we do not react in the only language that oppressors understand and so they could continue to inflict pain and suffering on us. If they have issues with the way we respond to hurtful stimuli, then stop inflicting racist pain and we too could be good rational people just like them.

    To paraphrase Salassi and Martin, when the colour of a man’s skin, his race, or ethnicity is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, only then will we study war no more.

  • L.Paul, I disagree with your reasoning, that because a person of mixed ancestry may have one predominate feature or phenotype. that we must classify them as whatever they look most like. Bear in mind that these “classification” systems are developed by mostly European/Western scientific notions that not too long ago attempted to classify people of African descent as as sub-human.

    I think people of mixed ancestry should be allowed to define themselves, and let us avoid this human tendancy to lump human beings into broad generic classifications ie. “Black or White”. The reality is that our society is becoming increasingly multi-racial and persons of mixed ancestry do not have to “pick” one ancestry over another.

    My only reason for posting was out of frustration at seeing people of many different cultures being referred to incorrectly. simply out of human ignorance.

    For example. in this post 911 world climate, many people who appear to be “Middle Eastern” in appearance (whatever that means), are mislabled as “Arabs”. This includes, Hindus, Pakistanis, and members of the Sikh faith, just to name a few.

    I am simply suggesting that one take time to learn about the diversity of world cultures, find out how they see themselves, before slapping our own labels on them.

    Incidentally, I shared this dialogue with my very fair skinned, colleague who is of Morrocan-Berber descent, she found the notion that she should be classified as “White” to be quite humourous indeed!

    Finally, with regards to responding to racism with violence, granted the context in which it occurs plays a major factor.

    While I think one may react to a racial slur more “appropriately” in say a workplace setting, one is less likely to respond the same way while playing a gruelling, physical, and often violent sport such as football.

  • Michael De Gale’s points are seconded here. As such, no further analysis or philosophical will be put forth by yours truly.

  • I think some of you are confusing several terms. Race is different to Nationality and Ethnicity (do some research).

    Michael De Gale said:

    Ayinde: T o judge a person’s ethnicity solely on the basis of their physical appearance could often lead to the wrong conclusion, For example, at a glance or even an intense stare, one would conclude with absolute certainty that Morgan Job is definitely a Black man. However, that would be extremely misleading as his writings and frequent diatribes clearly indicate. The point is, as Akan has painfully pointed out, that Zidane is of Algerian-Berber descent, born and grew up poor in a ghetto in France, embraces his Berbian-Algerian heritage and continues to support a charitable organization in the ghetto where he was born. To my knowledge he is viewed as an African and has never attempted to “pass” for white. In fact, it is alleged that he has been called the “N” word on more than one occasion. For those who insist on seeing Zidane as white for the sake of compromise, let’s call him a honourary Black.

    I have not judged Zidane’s ETHNICITY (ethnicity is a broad term that relates to a wide array of social classifications of which race is just but not limited to one of them) solely on the basis of his physical appearances. In fact, I assessed his RACE based on his phenotypical characteristics.

    Europeans have diverse ethnicities just like Africans and people of other races, and people can have ethnicities outside of race, for example, ethnicities based on language, politics and religion.

    Algerian-Berber is not really a racial definition; Algeria is a country, and Algerian is one’s nationality.

    “Berber is a generic name given to numerous heterogeneous ethnic groups that share similar cultural, political and economic practices.”

    “The genetically predominant ancestors of the Berbers appear to have come from East Africa, the Middle East, or both – but the details of this remain unclear. However, significant proportions of both the Berber and Arabized Berber gene pools derive from more recent migration of various Italic, Semitic, Germanic, and sub-Saharan African peoples, all of whom have left their genetic footprints in the region.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berber

    Therefore, “Algerian-Berber” does not denote race, but more a cultural ethnicity.

    About Morgan Job
    (See a picture of Morgan Job on his Website: http://www.drmorganjob.com )

    As ignorant as Morgan Job sounds at times, there is no disputing the fact that he is Black African. He may very well identify with different ethnicities, but that does not alter his race. There are many Black Africans who do not identify with Black issues and are quite sympathetic to European concerns, especially in the academic circles, but that does not refute their race. Even if Morgan Job called himself a white man, that will not make him white.

    No one has presented evidence that Zidane considers himself Black. What I am seeing is certain people trying to distort perception in order to make a defense for him. Even if he was to consider himself a horse, I would not consider him a horse and ride his back.

    Many whites grow up poor in Northern Africa and Europe, especially in the regions of southeastern Europe and Russia, and they experience prejudices from other Europeans. There are many whites residing in Africa who consider themselves Africans and we know that they are not using African here in its racial sense. They are not Black or African by race. Also, I am familiar with many whites who support Black African causes, but they are not even honourary Black for doing so. They are still white. They do not experience racism at the hands of whites and they do no experience the system like dark-skin Blacks.

    I do not accept your arguments, and after debating with some Black Africans from northern Africa for many years, they attest to the fact that widespread racism takes place in that region against dark-skin Black people. They do consider people like Zidane to be white or Caucasian.

    Not all of us Black Africans are so starved for heroes that we would embrace the poor conduct from an ill-tempered, hot-headed white or light-skin mixed person as a stand against Racism.

    As Chad reminded us, “Zidane and Materazzi have given their respective sides to the story. Nothing was said regarding, race, ethnicity, religion or politics. Zidane said Materazzi said something offensive about his “mother and sister.”

    There is definitely no evidence of Zidane taking a stand against racism by headbutting Materazzi.

  • Ayinde,

    Well let us agree to disagree then, however I would encourage you to actually speak to someone of Zindane’s ethnic group and ask them if they consider themselves to be “White”. I have done so, and I have my answer, and I am satisfied with that.

    Finally Zidane has never said exactly what Materrazi said to him, only that the comment was about his mother and sister. Whether it was racism or defending the honor of his family, Zidane did the right thing.

  • I see that this raging controversy has started again about “race” versus “ethnicity.” It is so confusing because no one seems to be capable of providing a proper definition of either term. This in itself is deserving of an explanation.

    Both race and ethnicity are social constructs that have no independent meanings outside of social, cultural, etc. practice. These are arbitrary terms that have been utilized with great effectiveness to shape societies in the interests of ruling classes. Thus, some light skinned blacks can be assigned as either “black” or “white.” At one time, Slavs, Armenians, Italians, Jews, and Irish people were not classified as “white” in the USA. This designation was reserved for those termed “old stock Americans.”

    A change came about in the 1940s, when social theorists invented the term “ethnicity” to create the rationale for assimilating these white skinned individuals into the mainstream of American society. By this reasoning, white ethnics were just varieties of one Caucasian “race.” Like the Caucasoid, the “Negroid” and the “Mongoloid” were also invented in Europe and America and it is time for enlightened people like those making comments on this subject, to realize that race and ethnicity are in essence dogma that grew out of social theory.

    We need to dispense with attempting to place all differential treatment neatly into the ethnic or race analytical framework. Science is proving right before our eyes that there is no biological basis for classifying human beings. The same blood types are being found throughout the color spectrum. In fact, genetic studies are showing that there were more variations among those classified as “same race” than among those deemed to be from “different races.”

    The way to combat racism is to attack its fragile and unscientific essence first. There is but one HUMAN RACE with origins on the continent of Africa. Then the pillars would begin to crumble. The myth of superiority of the “white race” over all “others” would not hold up. The stereotypes that justify prejudice and injustice would go into the dust pan. The socio-economic and political structures–the state’s machinery of power–that uphold and perpetuate discrimination would not be able to function in the same oppressive manner. This would come about when the social consciousness of the governed has been transformed and they are no longer buying into myths and fallacies designed to divide them one against the other.

    One of the above commentators said he thought I took the Zidane head butt as striking “a blow against racism” too literally. Let me reassure you that I did not. But I hasten to add that one soccer player committing assault and battery against another is not my idea of the organizational effort and mass struggle needed to uproot racism and build peace around the world.

  • Akan, I am not agreeing to disagree with you. I DISAGREE with you. It is that simple. You made your points and I made my own. You and the article’s author, Michael De Gale, have not made a case to show how Zidane’s violent action amounts to “A Headbutt On Racism”. That is the basis for this debate.

    In an effort to legitimize his stance, Michael De Gale has attempted to make Zidane (a white person to some and a light-skin mixed person to others) an honorary Black (to say the least) while trying to sell us that a Black man, Morgan Job, is not black because he articulates his interest differently or fatuously. Obviously, the corruption in supporting Zidane’s violent response, for which he has no evidence to claim it was based on Racism, has caused a psychotic alteration in perception.

    Racism is mostly played out on physical appearances. People do not usually survey family histories before they decide if some people get White Privileges while others are treated with scorn and disregard. Before this Zidane incident, most Blacks, mixed ones and whites I know thought Zidane was white. Suddenly, many have tried to use his poor family background (which suggest class issues) and they being Muslims (which is about religious ethnicity) to make him the example for oppressed people including Blacks, solely to salvage him as a hero for France and football.

    France has invested in Zidane (a talented footballer) as a poster boy for multiculturalism, which presently is about appeasing so-called Middle Easterners and those from North Africa who were agitated about undertakings toward Muslims based on the dubious “War on Terror”.

    All of this does not make Zidane Black or a Black hero either.

    I stand by defining Zidane based on how Race and Racism is played out, and in that regard, Zidane is white to some and light-skin mixed-race to others, but he clearly is not Black. His actions have not proven to be against Racism either.

    ###

    Zidane, Materazzi punished by FIFA

    ##

    I do not agree with aspects of the article below, but the two paragraphs I quote are on point.

    – Ayinde

    EXTRACT FROM:
    Selfish Zidane has fooled Fifa

    BY Paul Doyle
    Thursday July 20, 2006
    Guardian Unlimited UK

    Arrogant French legend has sullied his own legacy

    “Zidane complained that Marco Materazzi insulted him and should be punished. He stressed that the insults were not racist, religious or political. In other words, they were the sort of playground taunts that have been heard in every sporting contest at every level since the dawn of time. Zidane has surely been on the receiving end of such insults throughout his life and career; and it would be incredible if the 34-year-old has himself never taunted or insulted an opponent. Indeed, it has been widely reported that he called referee Jorge Larrionda a “son of a bitch” during France’s semi-final win over Portugal. In football, such vacuous insults have rarely been taken seriously, certainly not when between two players – they’ve merely been treated as relatively harmless valves through which players vent frustration, or crude ways of winding up adversaries. So did a dunderhead like Materazzi really manage to concoct a jibe so extraordinarily disturbing that it justified Zidane’s attack and his demand for Fifa to take unprecedented action?

    “Or is Zidane simply too proud to admit that the pressure and emotion of the World Cup final and his last ever game led him to make a big drama out of the most humdrum of happenings? Is he arrogant enough to try to fool the world into believing that he, who had previously accumulated 13 red cards in his career, is of such impeccable moral fibre and professional rectitude that it would have taken something unimaginably heinous to blur his focus? Well, insofar as it prompted silly Fifa to retrospectively impose a two-game ban on Materazzi, Zizou’s selfish ruse has worked.”

  • (sigh) Ayinde,

    When I said let us agree to disagree, it was a polite way of saying “There is really nothing more to say about this”.

    Just to clarify, I myself was not attempting to argue Zidane striking a blow against racism, I was arguing that he is not “White”and that regardless of what was said to him I feel his response was appropriate.

    Philip A John, your insight into the history of racial and ethnic labelling was very insightful, and much appreciated.

    Good luck on your respective journeys gentlemen, (women)……

  • I hope the article, which clarified that Zidane was not butting his opponent in order to strike a blow for racism, religion or politics, would bring closure to the issue.

    In the meantime we have spent an inordinate amount of time speculating about his “race” and “ethnicity,” neither of which would explain his lack of character.

  • @AYINDE

    If you have ever lived in France, then YOU WOULD REALISE THAT ZIDANE WOULD NEVER BE CLASSIFIED AS WHITE. French Politician Jean-Marie Le Pen of Le Front National classified Zidane among the 8 non-white players in the 1st choicestarting line up. (Ribery, Sagnol and Barthez are the only whites in the 1st choice eleven). There are still French people who refer to North Africans as ‘Ratons’ (a French racial slur for North Africans). Zidane is not White, and White Frenchmen are aware of it. Zidane is proud of his culture, and would never classify himself as White.

  • Mavericano Ayala said:

    If you have ever lived in France, then YOU WOULD REALISE THAT ZIDANE WOULD NEVER BE CLASSIFIED AS WHITE. French Politician Jean-Marie Le Pen of Le Front National classified Zidane among the 8 non-white players in the 1st choicestarting line up. (Ribery, Sagnol and Barthez are the only whites in the 1st choice eleven). There are still French people who refer to North Africans as ‘Ratons’ (a French racial slur for North Africans). Zidane is not White, and White Frenchmen are aware of it. Zidane is proud of his culture, and would never classify himself as White.

    You have not said anything here that refutes anything I have said. Many seem to be confused about the meaning of Race, Ethnicity and even Nationality.

    Even if as you claim many French people do not consider Zidane to be White (and you have not provided proof for this), that does not make them right. It certainly does not mean that Zidane experiences life as a Black person (which is where I thought the author of the article was leaning to).

    You spoke of a slur the French have for people from North Africa and that slur can be based on Race but can also be based on other ethnic considerations as North Africa has people who range from dark-skin Black to White. Zidane could have been experiencing prejudices because he is ‘Muslim’ and/or has Northern African ties. These would be ethnic based prejudices and not Racism.

    No one has presented a link to any words from Zidane about how he classifies himself, and even if he thought of himself as non-White, he would still be viewed by many as White, because race is determined by observable physical characteristics and not by one’s genes.

    Defining Race and Ethnicity

    Ethnic – of or relating to races or large groups of people who retain the customs, language, or social views of his (/her) group.

    Ethnicity – ethnic quality or affiliation

    Race – a: a family, tribe, people or nation belonging to the same stock.
    b: a division of mankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type.

    Webster’s New College Dictionary.

    Ethnic – a: relating to a group of people having a common national or cultural tradition.

    Race – n: each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.

    Concise Oxford English Dictionary

    So generally speaking, ethnicity is a group of people defined by a shared geographical origin or cultural history, including common language, religion, art, and other cultural factors. This can include race but is not limited to race.

    Race is a group of people who share common distinct physical characteristics e.g., skin color, hair texture, facial features.

    Akan said:

    When I said let us agree to disagree, it was a polite way of saying “There is really nothing more to say about this”.

    Well if you feel you have nothing more to say just move on. What’s up with the pronouncements? It seems rather condescending to me.

    The mainstream media jumped to erroneous conclusions about what was said to Zidane and contributed to making this issue more about race instead of Zidane’s poor conduct.

    You cannot prove to experienced dark-skin Black people, or people who use the textbook definition for race, that Zidane is not White, even if many others feel differently about his race. I would suggest that even if the majority of Europeans wish to claim that Zidane is not White, they are more or less doing so on grounds that fall outside their definition of Race. In other words, they are claiming that he is not White based on other ethnic considerations. So to some he is not White but definitely not Black, and to others he is clearly White and definitely not Black.

    Akan said:

    “Just to clarify, I myself was not attempting to argue Zidane striking a blow against racism, I was arguing that he is not “White” and that regardless of what was said to him I feel his response was appropriate.”

    You do not care what was said to Zidane as you said, “…regardless of what was said to him I feel his response was appropriate”. You are in effect giving blind support to Zidane. Therefore, it seems that you are here to spread propaganda.

    Race also became part of this issue because FIFA through this World Cup, in their own dubious way, drew attention to the racism that affects Black players. Some dishonest media tried to hijack the focus with wild speculations about Zidane’s violent reaction to Materazzi, basing his reaction on racial taunts (which has now proven to be wrong). Even the original writer of this article hastened to use that dubious angle and also invoked the name of Malcolm X. Black issues are easily co-opted by Whites and ‘lights’ who then muddle the issues. White and Lights are now right to violently respond to their shallow perception of racial taunts. I wonder how many of them would accept that in many ways they are racist towards dark-skin Blacks, and based on color preferences, even light-skin blacks get a measure of privilege in the Racist system. Dark-skin Blacks are faced with the brunt of the negative effects of racism and also colorism.

    I doubt a White or light-skin person can inform me how Race and Racism is played out and who is White or not White. Europeans have on many occasions not considered certain whites to be White and later on accepted them as White. I would suggest that people go and argue with those Europeans about their own confusion about race, and not people who are sensitive to the extreme effects of racism at the hands of Whites and ‘lights’.

  • Email from:

    Michael De Gale

    The arguements generated by the publication of this article were passionate, insightful, informative, articulate but sadly inconclusive. What is certain is that European football is plagued with racism as the following Video Clip shows.
    European Racism (Video)

  • I still don’t think this Ayinde fellow understands… I wonder where he lives.

    “Zidane’s first coaches at AS Cannes noticed quickly that he was raw and sensitive, eager to attack spectators who insulted his race….”

    “ZZ Top,” article by Andrew Hussey, Observer Sport Monthly (UK), Sunday, April 4, 2004

    “Most tellingly, after the 1998 World Cup, Zidane published a book, Mes copains d’abord (My Friends First), with Christophe Dugarry, fellow veteran of Bordeaux and the World Cup squad. Zidane was here more explicit than he had ever been before about what the victory had meant for him and his community: ‘It was for all Algerians who are proud of their flag,’ he said, ‘all those who have made sacrifices for their family but who have never abandoned their own culture.'”

    “ZZ Top,” article by Andrew Hussey, Observer Sport Monthly (UK), Sunday, April 4, 2004

    Zidane did NOT dedicate the World Cup win to France, but to Algeria. If he saw himself as White, then he would surely have sucked up to White people by dedicating it to France. HE IS THEREFORE NOT WHITE, AND DOESN’T PRETEND TO BE.

    Another Zidane quote, from the same interview, which doesn’t leave much to the imagination:

    ” Every day I think about where I come from and I am still proud to be who I am: FIRST, a KABYLE from La Castellane, an ALGERIAN from Marseille, and then a Frenchman.”

    Thus he clearly sees himself as Kabyle FIRST (his region in Algeria), then Algerian (his country), and LASTLY French (his birthplace). HE MENTIONS FRANCE LAST OF ALL.

    It is also interesting that Zidane has decided he does not want to live in France anymore, and has packed his bags for Switzerland.

  • Akan, check my response on the thread, Race and Politics in T&T.

    Mavericano Ayala,

    “Zidane’s first coaches at AS Cannes noticed quickly that he was raw and sensitive, eager to attack spectators who insulted his race….”

    This could be an error in language or just a basic misunderstanding about the term race.

    “Most tellingly, after the 1998 World Cup, Zidane published a book, Mes copains d’abord (My Friends First), with Christophe Dugarry, fellow veteran of Bordeaux and the World Cup squad. Zidane was here more explicit than he had ever been before about what the victory had meant for him and his community: ‘It was for all Algerians who are proud of their flag,’ he said, ‘all those who have made sacrifices for their family but who have never abandoned their own culture.’”

    This quote only says that Zidane’s victory was about his ethnic and Algerian nationality and not about race.

    Zidane did NOT dedicate the World Cup win to France, but to Algeria. If he saw himself as White, then he would surely have sucked up to White people by dedicating it to France. HE IS THEREFORE NOT WHITE, AND DOESN’T PRETEND TO BE.

    This statement makes NO SENSE. So what if Zidane proclaimed that his win was dedicated to Algeria and not France? This has nothing to do with explaining his race. You seem to be ignorant that there are White people living in Algeria and that Zidane was appeasing his ethnicity, not his Whiteness or lack thereof.

    Every day I think about where I come from and I am still proud to be who I am: FIRST, a KABYLE from La Castellane, an ALGERIAN from Marseille, and then a Frenchman.”

    This quote proves my point and does nothing to solidify your argument.

    Thus he clearly sees himself as Kabyle FIRST (his region in Algeria), then Algerian (his country), and LASTLY French (his birthplace). HE MENTIONS FRANCE LAST OF ALL.

    Are you suggesting that there is an Algerian race or a French race? As far as I know, these only relate to country and nationality and not race.

    It is also interesting that Zidane has decided he does not want to live in France anymore, and has packed his bags for Switzerland.

    This does not help your argument.

  • For those us living in Europe, Zidane is not white and he never will be. End of story. Even when I first saw Zidane, I could tell that he was not of European descent. French people can tell the difference – and thats all that matters. End of….

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