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Enough is enough

Zidane's actions understandable in flop-filled match

Posted: Monday July 10, 2006 3:06PM; Updated: Monday July 10, 2006 5:05PM
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Zinedine Zidane had a right to be angry at the Italian team in Sunday's World Cup final.
Zinedine Zidane had a right to be angry at the Italian team in Sunday's World Cup final.
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Picture this. Michael Strahan is tired of offensive linemen grabbing him, strangling him, chopping at his legs, talking never-ending trash, generally messing with him in fringe illegal methods and getting away with it. So he head-butts someone.

Will he get thrown out of the game? Probably not. He'll get a flag. But put him in the context of World Cup Football and the ridiculous grand opera tragedy it has become and he would not only get thrown out but a lifetime of greatness would be ruined -- at least for now.

Zinedine Zidane is not a flopper or a whiner or a moaner. I have never seen him pull one of those scenes from the last act of La Boheme, enacting his death tableau on the field after the merest brush of contact. I haven't seen him lying there at death's door while they go through with the most ridiculous of all dramas, the entry of the stretcher.

Imagine if the NFL were like that. Half a dozen stretchers called for during the course of the game, whereupon the nearly deceased leaps off it, shakes off the very fingers of the Evil One and trots back onto the field. Maybe Zidane was tired of all this, of this travesty, which rewards all the things that we were once taught were cowardly, but can be used to great advantage in this game.

So Zidane slammed a guy. He lost it. Writers all over the world are competing with themselves to heap scorn on France's greatest player. You know something? I don't blame him for getting sore. Almost every time I could find him on the screen, he had someone tugging at his shirt, tripping him or messing with him in some sneaky way.

The problem is he doesn't hit the canvas as the rest of those prima donnas do. So the ref must figure nothing is happening. Sure, he should have held off on the head butt, but to put the defeat of his team on his shoulders is a reach.

They say his magic foot would have provided the penalty kick France so desperately needed at the end. Did you see the one he scored in the first half? Guys like ABC announcer Marcelo Balboa were gushing about what a clever little shot it was, but hey, it hit the bar on top and landed three inches away from not being a goal. The one that France missed at the end was the same kick, only this one bounced just outside the line.

I'll tell you another thing. I just about had a bellyful of this Balboa guy. First he complains about all the flopping. Then, when France gets away with one to set up Zidane's penalty kick in the first half, he tells us that the guy "did a great job of selling it." Yeah, a great acting job. Accent on great.

It's like hearing Balboa congratulate a pickpocket for the deft way he lifted a guy's wallet. I love World Cup Soccer. I hated this game. I feel sorry for Zidane, who has a temper, just as I do. Or couldn't you tell?