For the few of you who missed it, here is video of the moment that will forever live in World Cup infamy:
Some people are claiming that Materazzi pinched Zidane’s nipple and then said something racist to him, and that made him lose his usual cool. It’s hard to tell what happened, exactly. No doubt Zidane will explain himself over the next days. In any case, this moment should not be allowed to overshadow his glorious career. I remain in shock, though.
UPDATE: There is slightly clearer video of the actual headbutt here.
UPDATE 2: This is from a profile in The Observer from April of this year:
One of the theories about Zidane as a player is that he is driven by an inner rage. His football is elegant and masterful, charged with technique and vision. But he can still erupt into shocking violence that is as sudden as it is inexplicable. The most famous examples of this include head butting Jochen Kientz of Hamburg during a Champions League match, when he was at Juventus in 2000 (an action that cost him a five match suspension) and his stomping on the hapless Faoud Amin of Saudi Arabia during the 1998 World Cup finals (this latter action was, strangely enough, widely applauded in the Berber community as Zidane’s revenge on hated Arab ‘extremists’).
Zidane’s first coaches at AS Cannes noticed quickly that he was raw and sensitive, eager to attack spectators who insulted his race or family. The priority of his first coach, Jean Varraud, was to get him to channel his anger and focus more on his game. According to Varraud, Zidane’s first weeks at Cannes were spent mainly on cleaning duty as a punishment for punching an opponent who had mocked his ghetto origins.
By the time he arrived at Juventus, in 1996, he had become known for his self-control and discipline, both on and off the pitch.
UPDATE 4: Zidane wins top award
UPDATE 5: Zidane and Contempt (Asad Raza in 3QD)
UPDATE 6: Zidane and Racism (Abbas Raza in 3QD)