A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What in the world is FIFA thinking?

On Thursday, FIFA, the governing body in international soccer, handed down their ruling in the now famous Zinedine Zidane headbutting incident. The ruling is sheer lunacy.

Marco Materazzi was fined $4,000 and banned for two matches for, essentially, making a "your mama" joke. That, and being the recipient of a vicious head-butt.

Zidane, who retired anyway, was banned for three matches and fined $6,000.

Story here

This is a tragic mistake by FIFA. They have set a precedent that is, in my mind, one they do not want to set. From now on, a player will be able to cry "oh, but he insulted my mother", and have the opposing player sent off, banned and fined. In every sport where grown men are the participants, the players insult each other all game long. They insult each other's children, wives, mothers, dogs, sisters, third grade teachers, whatever. It's part of the game, no matter what the sport is.

Even if the taunts are racist in nature, a grotesque violent retaliation such as the Zidane head-butt is not warranted. FIFA has made a mistake in many areas. First, they have set a standard that they cannot possibly maintain. If Materazzi is to be fined and banned for a "your mama" joke, they must penalize every player who makes a "your mama" joke. This, simply, cannot be done. Every team at every level would be reduced to a handful of non-suspended players.

Second, FIFA is indicating that Zidane's deliberately violent action, with intent to injure, is only slightly more reprehensible than taunting and name-calling.

Third, I fail to see the logic in suspending a retired player. It's like that scene in Clerks when the lady says she's never coming back to the video store, and Randal screams at her "Hey, you're not allowed to rent here anymore!". If they are going through the motions just to go through the motions it still sets a bad precedent. And why three games? In October of 2000, Zidane was suspended five games by UEFA for a head-butting incident against a German player. I guess UEFA takes things more seriously.

Finally, it just doesn't make sense. Put the fines/suspensions side-by-side. Put the offenses side-by-side. It just doesn't stack up.


Temujin said...

That is insanity.

This sport should be cracking down on dives and acting, not punishing people for words.

Soccer would be my second favourite sport if it weren't for BS like this.

Anonymous said...

they should take away the golden ball, the fact that they gave it to him anyway has dumbfounded me

d-lee said...

The thing about the Golden Ball is that is isn't awarded by FIFA. It's awarded by the international soccer press. FIFA can't take it away from him. I think, though, that they should persuade the powers that be to take the award away from him.

Craig said...

Apparently, if it *had* been a racist comment, FIFA regulations could have required the game to be ruled a forfeit by Italy, thus handing the World Cup to France.

So, theory: to avoid embarassing the sport further, the suspensions are part of a deal cut to suppress the racism allegations.

This may not be true, but since when did conspiracy theories need truth to be interesting?

PacerDawn said...

I don't understand what the big uproar is about this. I saw it. It basically amounted to a love tap, yet everyone makes it sound like it was so violent that it was surprising that someone didn't wind up in the hospital. Man, if people are going to get so worked up over something so benign as that, players should just whip knives out and go at it. If you are going to be crucified for violence, at least make it worth it.

And anyway, why is it allowable to hurl insults in the first place, many of which probably hurt MORE so mentally than a head-butt to the chest would physically? In all honestly, they should fine for ALL trash talking on the field. There is no call for being a bully. At all. I personally don't consider that good sportsmanship and think it should be penalized every time a ref hears it.

I'm sorry, but this head-butt incident just adds more fuel to the "soccer is a sport for wussies" fire.


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