Face Of The Day

Sep 29 2012 @ 2:56pm

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At the 2006 World Cup, French soccer star Zinedine Zidane ended his career when he headbutted Italian player Marco Materazzi in the chest. But the move, immortalized in bronze outside the Centre Pompidou contemporary art center in Paris, wasn't as disgraceful as originally thought. Henry Grabar explains:

It turned out that Materazzi had insulted Zidane's mother and/or sister, potentially with racially abusive language. (Zidane's parents are Algerian.) What exactly happened was never made clear, but both players were fined by FIFA, the sport's governing body. Not everyone forgave Zidane, but some did. Some said they might have done the same. The revelation that Zidane had been defending the honor of his family helped rehabilitate his reputation. He may have left the game, but he kept his dignity.

The statue, entitled "Headbutt," is by the Algerian sculptor Adel Abdessemed, and coincides with an exhibition of his work in the museum. "This statue goes against the tradition of making statues to honor victories," said Phillipe Alain Michaud, who directed the exhibition. "It is an ode to defeat… Zidane's downward glance recalls that of Adam, chased from paradise."

(Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)