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Soccer World Cup

Zidane’s Headbutt Returns in Bronze

Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt of Marco Materazzi is resurrected in bronze. Photo by multimediaimpre-flickr

The final act in the international career of France’s Zinedine Zidane has been brought back to life outside one of the country’s famed galleries.

Algerian-born artist Adel Abdessemed recently produced a 16-foot-high bronze re-creation of Zidane’s headbutt on Italy’s Marco Materazzi from the 2006 World Cup final. The statue, which has been erected outside the Centre Pompidou museum in Paris as part of an exhibition of Abdessemed’s work, has been the subject of many comments worldwide, from the artwork itself to what the exhibition organizer called it “an ode to defeat.”

The statue presents the immediate impact of the incident, which occurred with about 10 minutes remaining in extra time of a 1-1 match. According to Zidane, he struck Materazzi after the Italian allegedly made a derogatory comment about his sister. It highlights both players’ emotions after contact was made: Zidane shows his aggression; Materazzi reacts in pain.

The headbutt became a painful moment in French soccer. Zidane, who already had announced he was playing in his last international match, was ejected on a red card, which cost France one of what would have been its key kickers as the match went to penalties. Italy won the World Cup after the shootout.  Zidane was attempting to win his second cup, having led France to the 1998 championship on its home soil.

In a statement to Agence France Press, exhibition organizer Philippe-Alain Michaud said the work, named “Coup de Tête,” is different because while most statues are erected to honor a positive event, “This statue goes against the tradition of making statues in honor of certain victories. It is an ode to defeat.”