Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pourquoi, Zidane, pourquoi ?
It was time to dim the lights.

Put the sign out on the door of room 664 at the Philippine Plaza. Plop into bed, switch the telly on to watch the World Cup dramatic finals.

What can I say?
I was pretty hyper and still stuffed from the dinner buffet.
I tried to tone it down a bit by drinking tea. Yet the excitement was at an all time high for both, me and my sister. She kept cheering on the Italian squad. I was screaming relentlessly at L'Equipe France to attack, attack and attack.

The first half was clearly Italy's game.
The usual tripping, tackling from behind, the pushing and shoving, the few attempts at Fabian Barthez's goal.
The referee conceded a penalty shot to France after Cannavaro and Materazzi tripped Florent Malouda in the penalty area.
Yes it was questionable, to say the least.
Zidane who was clearly NOT in a good mood from the start of the game, based on the frown pasted on his face took the shot.
He almost missed it but by some stroke of luck, it was deemed as a goal for France. A few minutes later, a header from Marco Materazzi gave the fans at the Naples stadium a chance to jump up and down with joy and Italy equalized the score at 1 - 1.

Half time - I was more subdued but kept arguing with my sister about the questionable penalty shot from Zidane. So I made myself another cup of tea to try to calm myself. It didn't work. Heh!

The whistle to signal the start of the second half was like a trigger for the French players to bring it on. So they relentlessly attacked and practically embedded themselves within Buffon's penalty area.
Several misses from Thierry Henry, Florent Malouda as well as Franck Ribery almost gave me cardiac arrests. The tension was gripping me like electric currents. A second goal from Italy was disallowed after Luca Toni was deemed offside. By the the end of the full time game, it was clear that both sides were already exhausted from the tough game. The warm weather with temperatures soaring at 30 degrees C didn't help either.

During the extra added time, Italy was obviously gunning for the penalty shoot outs showdown. While France tried to desperately score more goals. When Zidane's header hit the crossbar, I screamed with gusto. Quel dommage.

Of course, we now all know what happened during the last few minutes of the second extra added time. The horrible incident that first left us all numb. Then shock slowly kicked in as the replay showed us what the mighty Zidane was capable of doing when he gets provoked.
Several questions abound, there are no sure answers.
Why was Zidane so harsh? How could he do something that terrible? Is he mad, it is the World Cup finals! Was he provoked? Was it a racial slur that Materazzi spewed out? Did he rub Zidane the wrong way? WTF?

We can spend the rest of the month or the years to come just fielding endless questions. Speculations continue to muddle the mayhem that fueled up the incident. Several allegations of Materazzi calling Zidane, a terrorist or an Arab, maligning Zidane's family and even ridiculous tendencies of nipple tweaking are spreading like wildfire. It is really silly, if you ask me. I don't think Zidane should ever explain WHY he did it. Surely he has his reason. Whatever it is. It was his decision to self destruct. To ruin his reputation. To taint his football legacy. It must have been something really horrifying, he didn't care anymore if he lost his temper.

France lost NOT because Zidane was handed a red card BUT because Trezeguet missed the penalty shot. The youngster faltered. The ball didn't go into the net. End of story.

So Italy won! Fabio Cannavaro lifted the golden trophy amidst the triumphant joy of his players. The massive stadium was filled with white confetti. The fireworks lighted the dark sky of Berlin. At the end of the day, I'd say it was a game which befits a World Cup finals in a style we can truly expect from two powerful footballing nations, Italy and France.
Whether Italy deserved to win or which side played the better game is beyond the point. Only ONE side had to take home the honor of being the champions at the 2006 World Cup. Congratulations, Italia!

Top honors though go to Germany for graciously hosting the event. A really spectacular show. Good matches, great players, massive stadiums, 32 teams of qualifiers who all deserved to be there. Even the record number of cards handed, the nasty incidents which disabled players with painful injuries, the drunk hooligans arrested, the bad referees, the racism - all these are part and parcel of any World Cup event. Too bad it only happens every 4 years. I will surely miss staying up till the wee hours of the morning just to watch the games. I am looking forward to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

My final paragraph is dedicated to Zinedine Zidane. I want to thank you for being such a fantastic football player. For entertaining us with your fancy footwork, your masterful tactics on the field, your skillful display of your formidable talents. You are the main reason why Spain, Brazil and Portugal got eliminated out of the World Cup. That is no mean feat. I salute you and would eternally adore you as my favorite soccer player in the whole world.
Sans blague!

Salut Zizou. =)

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