Michael Coren, Toronto Sun, July 15, 2006
So multi-millionaire soccer play Zinedine Zidane is not a spoiled brat with a temper but an oppressed and misunderstood victim of racist abuse and insults to his family.
Poor soul. Until the middle of last week we all thought he had lost his temper with Italy’s Marco Materazzi and head-butted him in the chest merely because he has problems controlling his anger.
But no. According to the French midfield star’s supporters he was merely reacting to vile insinuations about his Algerian parentage and the links between Arabs and international terrorism.
Well, that explains it then and makes everything okay. Because if anyone makes even the most fatuous racist comment the wronged party has every right to do whatever he wants.
Racism being, of course, the worst sin in the history of the world.
Aside from the fact that Materazzi denies making comments about Zidane’s family or race — and thuggish soccer players never lie — it is quite extraordinary that a man can be transformed from horror to hero merely because of a few words.
His action was wrong. Wrong before the alleged explanation and wrong now. He clearly had time to consider what was said, to run several yards and then to move forward to deliver his attack. Which, by the way, probably left little more than a slight bruise on the prostrate Italian.
Problem is, Zidane has been thrown out of games in the past and has always had a nasty streak. He was shown a Red Card against Saudi Arabia some years ago, and it would be a stretch to think that his actions were the result of some Islamaphobic remark from a Saudi Arabian!
There is also the deeper issue of the false excuse of racism.
A black teenager dressing and acting so as to provoke people who then cries racism when stopped by a police officer.
An African dictator alleging racism when criticized by the West for human rights violations.
An Arab regime using torture and terror and then blaming imperialism for its failings. Anti-social attitudes forgiven because of historical injustices.
As for Monsieur Zidane, he has been lionized rather than victimized in France for his North African heritage. Presidents, parliaments, press and people have built him up as the shining example of French multiculturalism.
Which is complete and utter nonsense. When the French soccer team played Algeria there were several thousand French youths of Algerian descent in the stadium who booed the Marseillaise, cheered the Algerian anthem and then chanted al-Qaida slogans throughout the game.
Similar attitudes were shown when other young French men from the former Arab and African colonies torched cars, looted stores and beat up innocent people in the name of liberation and the fight against racism.
There is no doubt that they were not always treated properly by their adopted home but the idea that people become gangsters and terrorists so easily is ridiculous.
Misguided ideas of racial superiority exist in all ethnic groups and institutionalized racism is far more common today in countries outside of Europe and North America. Indeed in Canada it could be argued that individual racism is at least as common among minority groups as it is in white majorities.
But to even suggest such a thing could lead to me being called a racist.
Don’t worry. I won’t be head-butting anybody. And being an England fan, I probably won’t be anywhere near a World Cup final either.