Thursday, July 13, 2006

Zidane Blows the Cup for France?

Okay, I'm going to admit to a bit of sensationalism there. Did he blow it? Maybe. Who knows? The problem is, it's a game played across 90 minutes with everything usually decided in seconds. And everything you grow up learning about teams sports tells you that it's not the individual that wins or loses a game, but the team as a whole, but when you talk a player of that caliber, it's kind of hard to swallow. Take for instance his first goal that same game of the FIFA World Cup Final: his one on one against Buffon, who had a stellar showing with only one goal on him on the books at that point(and an own-goal at that), and Zidane put it in with apparent ease. He didnt even bother to put much on it as it was a slow chip. He made the goalie commit, then put it nice and easyily in the opposite corner. Almost as if to let the italian keeper know who was in charge...
So, when you lose a player who was previously considered the best player in the world by FIFA, and who scored 2 of the 3 winning goals in the 1998 World Cup versus Brazil in the final, it's hard to even fathom these events taking place. Why with only minutes left would a player of that caliber, who's probably about seen it all across his career as a soccer player, let something get to him to draw a Red Card?
Well, the man of all this spectacle has spoken in an interview with Canal Plus, where he claims that Materazzi "Pronounced very tough words about my mother and sister.." and that, "I tried not to listen to him but he kept repeating them."
Personally hearing that, I'm kind of torn. Part of me says you just don't retaliate - a player of his profile should just know better. As I really sit and think about it though, and you watch back over the way the Italians have played in the cup, falling over to draw fouls, the acting, etc.. and then you see this - hell, I think he didn't hurt him bad enough. At least that way they would have had to have sent Materazzi off the field in a stretcher.
I love soccer. Grew up playing it in the U.S. playing it in other countries during my summers as a kid even - watching European ball as I grew up and loving the sport. But you see the garbage and play-acting I see everytime I watch Italy play, it just ruins the game. I swear in Italy, this brand of soccer must but like their Soap Operas. "Oh dear Totti was SHOVED, will our beloved play again? OH WAIT! They have given him the foul and he is MAGICALLY BETTER!!! AHHHH !!!!"
It's not just Italy - I don't mean to just pick at them (and I fully admit they have some amazingly talented players). I definitely saw it in a few of the Portuguese players as well. FIFA seriously needs to crack down on that garbage. How about a 5-10 minute period for going down and requiring to be taken off the field? Not just 30 secs off the field then magically better. That would make players think twice if they went down wouldn't it? If you dive their should repercussions. And if they find you guilty post-game, their should be serious game suspensions, otherwise you're just ruining the game.
Now back to Zidane. What shuold be done? I've got to admit I'm seriously torn. You can't just condone open violence on the field. However, I think about anyone has their limits, and to him, maybe really insulting the hell out of his family is it. I consider myself pretty level-headed, but if you said the right thing about my mom, well, we'd have problems.
So what about the guy throwing that kind of language around? If they talk about stripping the award from Zidane, then maybe we should think about stripping the cup title from a player willing to play like that at the highest level of the game? It sounds stupid, but If you consider one, I'm not against considering the other, especially if its proven down the road he was trying to get a rise out of Zidane. And hell, Materazzi has already admitted it publicly...
Anyways, will be interesting to see how FIFA reacts and what comes about, and whether they will really find the stones to come down on people, as they've said they would in the past. This is supposed to be the beautiful game, they need to make it that way.