Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Our Lips Are Sealed

The Zidane mystery moves from the sublime to the ridiculous:

As L'Equipe summed up the moment of madness with a headline of "Regrets Eternels", a day of endless questioning began. With many conflicting versions of events circling on the internet and in the world's media, The Times enlisted the help of an expert lip reader, Jessica Rees, to determine the precise nature of the dialogue that caused Zidane to react in such a manner.

After an exhaustive study of the match video, and with the help of an Italian translator, Rees claimed that Materazzi called Zidane "the son of a terrorist whore" before adding "so just f*** off" for good measure, supporting the natural assumption that the Frenchman must have been grievously insulted.
Okay, "with the help of an Italian translator," eh? So, does this mean that Marco Materazzi made the insult in Italian. We are to assume that Zidane speaks fluent Italian? I mean, in the world of international soccer, I imagine that the players pick up bits of the language of different nations (Zidane is Algerian born, a French citizen, but plays for Real Madrid in Spain).

"F**k off" is one of those phrases that translates pretty well across various languages (either literally or with basic understanding of emphasis and body language). But "son of a terrorist whore" is a pretty specific insult that might be hard to figure out -- especially in the middle of a hard-fought match in the middle of the day.

And then, the lip-reader, whose first language is English works with a translator to break down what an Italian soccer player said in Italian and then turns that back into English?

And, again, we assume that Zidane knows Italian?

I dunno...a bit of a stretch for me.

However, the real story here is that Zinedine Zidane has managed to do something that one month of the World Cup did not -- finally turn soccer into an A-list media blood-sport that spills into the general news stream and cable talk shows.

People who on Sunday didn't know the difference between Zizou and Zsa Zsa now have to find out "What set off Zidane?"..."What did Materazzi say?"..."Was it because of the squeezed nipple?"..."Why won't Zidane speak out?"

Because of You Tube, L'Headbutt has now been viewed more times than the Zapruder film.

Controversy! That's what fuels interest in sports! Heck, it was Neil Cavuto's closing comment Tuesday!

When was the last time Cavuto talked about, oh, I don't know -- the NHL?


UPDATE: OK, so maybe I was wrong -- about the lip-reading stuff. An Italian-American soccer-following fan writes: "Zidane played for 6 years in Italy and from what I understand speaks fairly good Italian. And besides, from the rumors, what Materazzi supposedly said was not Dante but more gutter/street insults, partially involving one of the something like 2,000 Italian insults for sexual perversion (the Italians supposedly have thousands of slang terms for the male organ)." So, it is easy to see that Zidane understood what Materazzi said to him (in Italian).

However, that we are STILL talking about the final game of the World Cup on Wednesday and the controversy is continuing -- "Will Zidane lose his Golden Ball?" (uh, I don't even want to touch that one, ahem!) -- proves the accuracy of my second point: Zinedrine Zidane has done his sport a great service with his impulsive passionate action. Everybody's talkin' footy!!

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