A Headbutt On Racism

By Michael De Gale

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?

33 thoughts on “A Headbutt On Racism”

  1. You are quite arrogant and unreasonable. Why should the debate end when you say it does? If you wish to end your part of the discussion, then that is up to you. This is a weblog and it allows for the expansion of debates. Whether people agree with any point of view here, there is a whole lot that they can learn from the entire debate.

    Not all people, French or not, would agree that Zidane is non-White. The only way that they can “tell the difference” is because they are aware of his national/ethnic background. If they were unaware of his origin, then they would have considered him White by their standards. In other words, they would have assessed him based on his physical appearance as many have done before the head butting incident occurred.

  2. Dear All

    Out of all the Blogs and discussions I have been reading regarding Zinedine Yazid Zidane the emails I have seen posted here are of the highest intellectual level (I’m serious go and see the discussion they have in the UK and French webs you will cry from laughter) You have the most enjoyable discussions and looked at the issue from diffrent angles.

    As a Berber from the UK whos parents are from the same home town as Zidane’s parents in Algeria, as someone who has the same complexion as Zidane and half of my family are Red Heads who you would think come from Scotland and as someone and as some one who is proud of my European but more proud of my roots as Zidane is, I wpould like to give a reason to why Zidane reacted that way.

    Everything you have mentioned is correct all this contributed to Zidane’s reactions. But you have missed an important factor! History. Looked at the Algerian people’s history and you will find people who have aleays been invaded by different races! The last of them all were the French and the only way they got there indepence was through was.
    Algerians are rebellions who are proud of there Identity and culture, respect other cultures as long as they are not provoked and hurt for no reason. If that happens there will be a sense of injustice and the way we would reac is violently in a spontaneous manner!
    I can identify this with my self, friend and family. Algerians lost 1.5 million people just to gain independence from ‘White’ invasion.
    We believe that what has been taken by force can only be regained by force!
    That is why you find that we relate to any people who have gone through this, blacks, palestinians south americans etc

    In all Zidane like any one other race who went through oppression and racism will always defend there dignity that way.

    That Materrazzi got what he deserves and thank God Zidane was smart because back home we aim for the nose not the chest otherwise Zidane would have spent the resy of his life eating speghetti in Jail!


  3. Can I add something, I do not blame the guys who thought or believe Zidane was white.
    Why? I will tell you why, its helarious!
    I once travelled to Ireland from London, and Ireland is not as Multi racial as London is.
    Eventhough I look White like Zidane or any other Europeans do. Peolple there considered me as black Carribean LOl
    Amazing I liked it though!LOL

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