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.
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.
4 years ago