Monday, July 10, 2006

What a disappointing, dispiriting and hollow feeling Sunday evenings World Cup final left me with. Nothing against Italy, although after a good first half, virtually all their attacking verve vanished into the Berlin night. No, the real misery was the shameful behaviour of Zinedine Zidane; It was one of the ugliest, most brutal things I’ve ever seen on a football pitch, barbaric thugishness made somehow worse, when it’s perpetrator has been the instigator of some of the most beautiful football I’ve seen.

And yet today, Zidane is given a hero’s reception upon his return to France, how different from the response to David Beckham following his sending off for a very minor moment of stupidity against Argentina 8 years ago. Obviously the comparative contributions of these two players to their national teams and football in general were wildly different at the time of their misdemeanours.

Beckham was at the start of a career, which would hopefully lead England to a new level of success on the world stage. As we now know, that promise has never come to full fruition, Zidane was at the other end of the spectrum, having achieved everything any player could wish for on a personal, club and international level. So I assume the praise was for past glories, whilst the hatred for Beckham was caused by the frustration of under achievement when the carrot of success had been briefly dangled under English noses.

Interesting that the French president should praise him for displaying “the greatest human qualities”, whilst failing to mention the inhuman ones he showed on Sunday evening. It was a sickening, shuddering act of brutality, repulsive in it’s vitriolic hatred. The beautiful game lost much of its charm through his selfish act.

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