Congratulazioni Italia!

Exciting World Cup finish today, utterly fascinating World Cup. I’m not a fan of the Penalty Kick off, but hey, a game has to end somehow.

I am quite curious to find out what really happened with Zidane — I’ll bet there is more to the story than we know right now.

Regardless, Italy toughed it out, and deserve to hoist the championship trophy . . .    


UPDATE July 9, 2006 10:02pm: 

I ripped the closing montage ABC put together over U2’s live performance of One:

click for video (it loads slowly)


U2 One (2006 WorldCup).mp4

UPDATE: July 13, 2006 10:23 am

This terrific Zidane photo is circulating (I don’t know if it is photoshopped or real, but its very funny):


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  1. aj commented on Jul 9

    Certainly my best to Italy.
    I just learned that the italian guy was sleeping with Zidane’s wife. That just9ifies his actions….
    —- just made that one up. he’s just another thug.

  2. t commented on Jul 9

    That guy Zidane has had a disgraceful record of doing essentially the same things before: yellow cards, then similar head-butt in 1998 (red card+sendoff), and this year, 2 yellow cards and not allowed to participate in one game, before this final red card sendoff. Had France not been eliminated early in 2002, who know how many more yellow/red cards the fellow might have? Talented, yes, but with an incurable temper.

    In fact, the whole French team (including their arrogant, snobbish coach) have shown no class whatsoever, after every match all we heard from them was how great they were, never a consolation for the other team. The Italian defender who scored the decisive goal against Germany congratulated his opponents for superb playing, and said they had all worried about a potential penalty shootout against Germany before what he termed as a “lucky shot.”

    Real characters are usually exposed during moments like these.

  3. KL commented on Jul 9

    Whatever it was- was it worth giving up the lifetime job as Master Card spokesman?

  4. Detroit Dan commented on Jul 9

    t — Thanks. I’m glad to hear the good guys won…

  5. V L commented on Jul 9

    Italy showed class and sportsmanship during their all matches in this World Cup.
    (French will always be French.)


  6. KMG commented on Jul 9

    I imagine something was said to Zidane, we will likely never know what happened…

    I don’t know why they are calling the French arrogant. They decided not to talk to the press and kept among themselves, trying to prevent rumors or other stuff distracting the team (the coach of the 1998 cup pretty much said: i’ll never forgive you for this (to the press, after trying to stir up a mess on the French team)).

    Italy played consistently well throughout the tournament, I’ll give you that, but the French team was the better team on the pitch. However, penalty kicks are usually a draw of luck, but Buffon certainly is a much better keeper than Barthez (just look at the save of Zidane’s header).

    Hats off to Italy

  7. V L commented on Jul 9

    For those who did not see it:

    During the overtime period, Zidane got into a little push-and-shove with an Italian player, seemed to walk away, then turned on heel and head-butted Marco Materazzi in the chest, such blatant displays of violence. Marco was left lying on the field writhing and whether or not that particular reaction was warranted is beside the point. We don’t know what Marco Materazzi said. I fully agree with the referee’s decision to red card him. It was a heinous display of temper.


  8. non-french jack commented on Jul 9

    The French have their faults to be sure, but the Italians drove me crazy the entire Cup with their stupid and obnoxious play-acting and fake suffering from non-existent fouls. The refs mercifully ignored some of it, but the rest resulted in fouls against the opposition that were totally bogus. The worst part of it is that the Italians have a talented team. If they just played the game and didn’t screw around with that stuff, they probably would’ve won in regulation. For that reason alone, I spent most of the game rooting for the French. Not that what Zidane did was right, but I was hoping somebody along the way in this Cup would give the diva Italians a good reason to writhe around on the turf, just to balance the scales. Nothing serious, just a little reminder of what crying wolf is all about. But in the heat of play, not like Zidane did it.

    I’m with Barry. Zidane didn’t butt the guy in that situation (Cup finals, tie game, Zidane’s last Cup game) just for kicks. He was ready to laugh off whatever was being said until the Italian went over the line. We may never know what was said, but I’m sure it was yet another example of ‘class and sportsmanship.’ I only wish he had thrown a legitimate punch and nailed the guy in the mouth. The butt was kind of sleazy.

    And the American announcers’ harping on how the Italians had to ‘overcome’ the weight of the fixing scandals back home–give me a break. They couldn’t care less. If there ISN’T bribery and a certain level of corruption in any major endeavor in Italy, that would be news. This is just business as usual. (See last week’s news for examples.)

    The French may not be admirable, but it’s also easy to play a somewhat dirty game and then say a few nice things to make yourself seem modest and magnanimous. The Italians are not ‘good guys’, they’re just better at conning the rubes. And it’s that much easier when some people go into it with an anti-French bias to start with–usually for political or cultural reasons.

    Me, I’ll take my a**holes straight up, please, without the sheen of baloney. Or in this case, mortadella.

  9. Bruce commented on Jul 9

    As long as we’re pre-judging and introducing stereotypes “arrogant, snobbish”…..”incurable temper”…
    Zidane actually had the reputation as being a smooth, classy player, which is why the head butt (sp?) is so shocking.

    The Italian team (and the leagues they come from), and in particular the player who baited Zidane, have a history of racial taunting.

    What the minority players are subjected to in the highest European leagues wouldn’t happen here. All the black players would walk out. Either that, or there would be riots.

    To put it into an American context, what would have happened if a white defender was constantly calling Michael Jordan n****r during a 7th game of the NBA finals?

  10. abe commented on Jul 10

    “To put it into an American context, what would have happened if a white defender was constantly calling Michael Jordan n****r during a 7th game of the NBA finals?” That’s a monsterous leap, an assumption of facts none of us have. If we are guessing I would say no slurof that kind was uttered. Materazzi was caught unaware. I doubt he would have been if the banter was as extreme as you suggest. Zidane had no business on the field at that point. He called for a sub roughly 18 minutes earlier. The French team was pathetically conditioned. That Zidane, Rivery, and Henry were physically incapable of completing the match is a disgrace. The Italians were the better side in my opinion. Why the manager closed them into a defensive shell is beyond me. They seemed to be playing for PK’s since the half. What that was all about is of far greater interest then the mental collapse of an exhausted player.

  11. joec commented on Jul 10

    i was told that a lip reader saw Materazzi saying ‘eggplant’ to Zidane and he obviously overreacted.

  12. dave commented on Jul 10

    Anybody who thinks: “…Zidane actually had the reputation as being a smooth, classy player…” may want to read this:


    “This was a blatant, stupid foul in the 110th minute, and not the first time he’d done something so loony. Zidane had committed the same foul a half dozen years ago when he was playing for Juventus in the Champions League, another head butt against Hamburg. He’d stomped on a Saudi player at the 1998 World Cup, getting suspended then for two matches.”

  13. fiat lux commented on Jul 10

    Forza Italia!

    I agree that once extra time started that it seemed Italy was playing a waiting game for PKs instead of really driving the ball down field. Generally I would prefer that a game, much less the entire World Cup, not be decided on PKs, but that’s how the ball bounces.

  14. Kate commented on Jul 10

    Italy’s soccer style is not my personal preference. They have always been practical and opportunistic rather than flamboyant — some even say boring, uninspirational. They concentrate on defense, then hope to score on counter-attacks. That’s why it’s hard to score against them, but on the other hand, if they can’t score during the match either, then it’ll usually end up in PKs.

    However, I disagree that they’re waiting for PKs in this match, or any match for that matter. They themselves knew they’re extremely weak at PKs. Historically they’ve had disastrous results during PKs, losing all 4 penalty shootouts during the last 4 worldcups. I think they just couldn’t help playing defense against a stronger attacking team — it’s just their natural style (i.e., old habits die hard.)

    This is their first victorious PK ever, so congrats to them.

  15. gildo commented on Jul 10

    Im sorry but before 2000 there was much rougher stuff going on in the WC than a lousy head but…..the game is turning weak and its a pussification of the game….

  16. non-french jack commented on Jul 10

    “If we are guessing I would say no slurof that kind was uttered. Materazzi was caught unaware. I doubt he would have been if the banter was as extreme as you suggest.”

    Wow, we Americans really CAN be incredibly naive, just like the French (and Germans, and Italians, etc. etc.) suggest.

  17. Daithi commented on Jul 10

    While I don’t want to suggest Americans are naive, all I can say is that you appear to have no real understanding of European football. European football is unfortunately steeped in racism, amongst both players and supporters. Initial reports from the Italian press are saying that Materazzi called Zidane a terrorist. Such a reference would have a very strong contemporary and historical resonance for Zidane who has an Algerian Muslim heritage (for those who don’t know). As for a vicious temper, well all the players on the verge of greatness appear to have a passion that gives them an edge over everybody else. And Zidane is right up there with others who have might have achieved the same status as Diego and Pele. This seems to spill over into incidences all too often (for example just look at the likes of Cantona, Keane, or Rooney and they just play for United!). Still great game, well done Italy!

  18. enrico commented on Jul 10

    This Zidane story is overrated.
    You guys ever played soccer (or whatever sport) at a high lever in your life?
    I’m not saying it’s part of the game, but it’s quite common to be insulted by the opponents, specially if you play in a team of 11 players with just one referee that has not the gift of ubiquity.
    So give me a break, what Materazzi said to Zizou is just not that big deal, it’s just nothing more than normal offenses during a match.
    I’m not saying it’s a gentlemen sport, but admit that soccer is not golf either eh.
    I just feel sorry for Zidane, maybe the best player of the last 10 years and a great man, he would have deserved a standing ovation.

  19. ABreck commented on Jul 10

    I was thinking maybe there was something to the earlier hug. Remember he almost went off earlier with either a shoulder or rib injury.

    So maybe it’s:
    How does it feel old man? (add epithets)
    Like this! (drop to the ground, wait for TV replay)

  20. Detroit Dan commented on Jul 10

    France was lucky to get their first goal. In looking at the replay, the Italian defender may not even have touched the French player in the penalty zone, yet a penalty kick was awarded.

    The penalty kicks during the game (as opposed to the overtime shoot-off) are a joke, it seems to me. It’s like giving a goal to one team, which is ridiculous when 1 or 2 goals is enough to win most games. In fact, France only got into the finals with the help of a penalty kick in a 1-0 win over Portugal.

    A previous poster said that the Italians were “divas”. Come on! All the teams seem to do that. It’s unbelievable how frequent the dives are. When France scored their one (cheap) goal, the TV announcer only comment was that the French forward did a good job of “selling” the foul.

    Italy deserved to win as they scored the only real goal. Plus Zidane lost his cool and deserved to be ejected.

    Congrats to both teams for a tremendous tournament…

  21. Chibi commented on Jul 10

    I watched the foul in slomo on my tivo. There was indeed contact and when you’re running full speed ahead it doesn’t take much to send you tumbling. Call could have gone either way IMO. Both teams had a bit of luck. During the match I thought France outplayed Italy, but like every other team found their defense very difficult to crack. The ZZ headbutt was… unexpected. In all, a good tournament and fun to watch. Good excuse for a long lunch or two over hear on the west coast. (-;

  22. V L commented on Jul 10

    Now the great mystery is what set Zissou off. What
    could Materazzi have possibly said to send him over
    the edge? Answers are beginning to filter out.
    According to a FIFA employee transcribing what was
    said during the match, Materazzi’s called Zissou a
    “big Algerian shit.” A Brazilian television program
    that claims to have used a lip-reader said Materazzi
    called Zissou’s sister “a whore.” The highly respected
    French anti-racist coalition SOS Racisme issued a
    press release stating, “According to several very well
    informed sources from the world of football, it would
    seem [Materazzi] called Zissou a ‘dirty terrorist’.”
    Materazzi, in an answer that can only be called
    Clintonian, said, “It is absolutely not true. I didn’t
    call him a terrorist.” Of course he didn’t comment on
    what he did call him. Zissou himself has only said
    cryptically that he would reveal what Materazzi said
    “in the coming days.”

  23. tyoung commented on Jul 10

    Although the final was entertaining this was a poor enough WC. A victory for Argentina and their one touch football would have been much better. Between the finalists France offered more hope for football fans.
    WCs set the tone in the soccer world. So what do we have to look forward too? 6 men defences , a lone striker upfront and everybody playing for set pieces like feekicks etc as the only way of scoring.

  24. abe commented on Jul 10

    This piece has more interesting speculation, provided by a lip reader working with a language translator, highly reliable:,,28783-2263995,00.html
    It contains a rundown of the smooth, classy zidane’s on field transgressions:

    Zinédine Zidane has been sent off 14 times in his career, two more than Vinnie Jones. Here are those red cards in full . . .

    Sep 1993: Marcel Desailly, the Marseilles defender, punches him and the Bordeaux midfield player retaliates in kind.

    Aug 1995: Slaps Thorsten Fink, a Karlsruhe player, in the face.

    Oct 1995: Sees red for a tackle from behind on Frédéric Mendy, a Martigues player.

    Sep 1996: At Juventus, sent off against Perugia after two bookings.

    Jan 1997: Punches Enrico Chiesa, of Parma.

    June 1998: Stamps on Fuad Amin, the Saudi Arabia captain, during World Cup finals.

    Oct 1998: Commits a two-footed challenge on Paolo Sousa, the Inter Milan player.

    Oct 1999: Receives a second yellow card for diving against AS Roma.

    Sep 2000: Late challenge on Emerson, the Deportivo La Coruña midfield player, in Champions League.

    Oct 2000: Butts Jochen Kientz, of SV Hamburg, and receives five-match ban.

    Feb 2004: First sending-off at Real Madrid for thrusting hand into face of Pablo Alfaro, the Seville defender.

    May 2004: Sent off for second booking after a rash challenge on Djalminha, the Deportivo midfield player.

    April 2005: Tries to punch Quique Álvarez, the Villarreal defender.

    July 2006: Butts Marco Materazzi in chest during World Cup final

    And yes, the Vinnie Jones referenced is the same gentleman who appeared in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

  25. salim commented on Jul 11

    All these Italians can go to hell. Zidane headbutted someone ONCE and got sent off. The Italians have been involved in HOW MANY fracas this world cup? They managed to split one USA players head open when they played them, they were involved in a fight between the Germans AND they had another altercation between the Aussies. So who’s the Psycho now? They stink. They play ugly football, their league is involved in a match-fixing scandal and their fans are openly racist. Materazzi is a piece of garbage, Totti is the best diver in the world and the only reason they wo is because Bufoon (or whatever his name is) is a good goalie. That’s it. They won the world cup, now they can do the whole world a favor and shove it up their backsides…

    One idiot on this blog posted that Zidane has two more offences than Vinnie Jones. Umm, I don’t know how to break this to you, but Jones is an average footbaler whose career lasted barely a decade. Zidane’s career has lasted nearly two decades, so he’s bound to pick up more offences seeing as he’s a bigger target than Jones. Jones still managed to get 12 red cards in his short career, proving that is the ONLY thing Jones is good at ….

  26. enrico commented on Jul 11

    Oh my…. I guess you guys are used to read the headlines in the papers and nothing more.
    I’m italian, live in italy and the match fixing scandal is NOT about players, but about referees and involves only 4 teams (Juventus mainly, Fiorentina Lazio and Milan).
    De Rossi hit the US player and was disqualified for 4 matches: did he deserved to die??
    I dont recall any fight with Germany (you’re counfusing yourself with Argentina): the match with Germany was definetly the best and most exciting one in the whole World Cup, the one where Italy showed how to play a football match. No altercation with aussie too. The penalty was disputed by the Australian team, and sure it wasnt the neatest penalty foul i saw.
    But true to say, the best teams have ALWAYS been treated kindly by the referees in the World Cup (in this last one see Brasil, Germany and France too – Henry faked in the match against Portugal!).
    No team showed that great football, sure Italy showed some of the best. Also these teams play 7 matches in 1 month, sure the best playing is hardly showed in the finals.

  27. deb commented on Jul 11

    July 11, 2006
    Racial Incidents Mar Italy’s World Cup Celebration

    ROME, July 11 — Swastikas spray painted in Rome’s ancient Jewish ghetto sullied Italy’s joy after its World Cup victory on Sunday, as did racial comments made by a former government minister about the French team.

    Italy’s interior minister, Giuliano Amato, said today that a number of swastikas were daubed on the walls of Rome’s Jewish quarter during the postgame festivities. “As an Italian I feel ashamed, and as interior minister I am alarmed by such things,” Mr. Amato reportedly said during a visit to Rome’s main synagogue.

    And a number of Italian politicians and the French ambassador to Italy issued a strong rebuke to remarks made by Roberto Calderoli, the former minister of reform and a member of the right-wing National Alliance Party. After the Cup victory he said that the Italians had vanquished a French team that was comprised of “Negroes, communists and Moslems.” Italian soccer is no stranger to extremist politics. Italian football matches are often used as a platform for far-right fans to express racist sentiments.

    There is no love lost between Italian fans and the French, especially France’s star Zinedine Zidane, who was sent off in the waning minutes of the World Cup final for head-butting the Italian defender, Marco Materazzi, apparently after being taunted. Mr. Zidane and members of his family have emerged as a favorite target of Italian insults. Some of those relatives have reportedly said they believed Mr. Materazzi had called Mr. Zidane a “terrorist,’’ a charge the Italian player has denied.

    As for Mr. Calderoli, this is his latest brush with controversy. During the international crisis over the publishing of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, Mr. Calderoli was forced to resign from his ministerial post earlier this year after making statements supporting the use of force against Muslims and wearing a T-shirt on national television with one of the cartoons emblazoned on it.

    Mr. Calderoli’s television appearance precipitated attacks on the Italian embassy in Libya in which at least 11 people were killed and dozens injured.

    After the climactic game Sunday, there were brief clashes between the police and bottle-throwing rowdies in Rome’s city center. On Monday, hundreds of thousands of fans joyously welcomed the arrival of their world champion team at the Circus Maximus in Rome.

  28. V L commented on Jul 11

    “Mr. Calderoli’s television appearance precipitated attacks on the Italian embassy in Libya in which at least 11 people were killed and dozens injured.”

    Is he blaming Calderoli for the death of 11 innocent people? He has conveniently forgotten about that the religious fanatics have killed them not Calderoli.
    Swastika has nothing to do with Italian soccer team. You do not even know if those stupid individuals who painted it were Italians. Maybe they were French or German or it was PETER KIEFER who painted it to have something stupid writing about.
    I have seen swastika painted on a wall in Paris. There are stupid people in every country.

  29. deb commented on Jul 12

    Yeah I know-a bunch of stupid people killed six million Jews during the Holocaust.

  30. Zizou commented on Jul 1

    I honestly almost want to spit on those of you who follow the trends of player hating.
    The Italian team may have shown fair play in this cup but it is only to reform from past preformances of poor taste anyone who goes looking into another persons history for more negative things to show against them obviously has reason to dislike him on a personal level which only goes on to besmerch the name of a footballer greater than any player the Italians have ever had.

  31. Fabian Manoza commented on Nov 22

    Zidane was the best player ever happened to this universy.

  32. zidaneismyhero commented on May 1

    Excellent world cup. Although i was routing for France the whole time, Italy played their brilliant game. Zidane’s headbut was a huge turn point BUT DO NOT JUDGE HIS ENTIRE CAREER on just the fouls he has commited. His generation of playing has revolutionized soccer in a way that even the high ranked players of today could never do. He dazzled us with antics never seen before in the beautiful game. And those who are suggesting that zidane is not a clean and graceful player. All i have to say is – If u have a bloody comment make sure you know what your talking about because there are 31 international goals out there that prove how wrong you are. My recommendation – watch Brazil vs France 2006 WC highlights and also Brazil vs France 1998 finals highlights. This shows the absolute brilliance of his game. For what other player can u mention that can run rings around the entire Brazilian team?

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