Sunday, July 09, 2006
France Loses World Cup
Weekend sports update...France didn't surrender but showed a prime example of disrespect within the soccer world. For anyone who watched the World Cup 2006 Finale yesterday, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Zidane, who is arguablly the best French International team player, showed signs of ill-content towards the soccer community. Yesterday, my respect for him dropped a few notches after the intentional headbutt into the chest of Italy's defender Marco Materazzi late in the match. More here: Zidane
I have refereed and coached soccer at the youth level. I am hoping that youth soccer coaches around the world use this event as an example of poor sportmanship. How could Zidane, supposedly retiring after this year, stoop to levels of childishness? What was he thinking? Revenge has no place during any kind of sport. I remember my first season of coaching the Under 12 (U-12) recreational youth soccer. We had a match against one of the local clubs. In all fairness, they had us beat fair and square during the match. They out played us, out ran us and were playing like a U-14 team. Half-way through the third quarter (four 7 minute quarters) we made an offensive play on their goal. They were leading 3-0 at thiis time and frankly, we posed no threat to winning the match. As our striker proceeded towards their goal uncontested, the goalie came out in what looked like a legit challenge for the ball. All-of-a-sudden, the goalie brutally tackled my player and laid him out flat. It was a tackle worthy of a linebacker tackling a wide receiver in the open field. The referee allowed play to continue until the ball was played out-of-bounds. I rushed onto the field to check on my player as did his father. The referee red-carded the player, called the quarter and allowed a 10 minute suspension of the match. Good call by the referee although I, as a referee, wouldn't have let play continue. Needless to say, the other team had to put someone in goal that wasn't capable of contesting our challenges and shots. And playing a man sort to boot. We ended up winning the match 5-3 (one goal from the penalty shot from the tackle). The following week the tackling goalie was suspended for the rest of the season and their coach was suspended for 2 games by their club. Why the coach was suspended is a total mystery but I was informed there were considerations surrounding the event that lead to his demise.
So what does this story prove? It proves that no matter what level of sports you are playing, a senseless attack of another player can ultimately cost you the game. Now the world will wonder (well me at least) what would've happened if Zidane hadn't been red carded. Would France have prevailed in the second half and subsequent overtime periods relentless attacks on goal? Would Zidane have retired from World Cup with a championship? Or will he forever be remembered for that childish headbutt into the chest?