World Cup 2006 Features
France tries to digest two bitter World Cup blows
By Siegfried Mortkowitz Jul 10, 2006, 12:45 GMT
A picture combo of TV grabs shows the foul Zinedine Zidane of France to Italy\'s Marco Materazzi and the red card shown to Zidane by referee Horacio Elizondo of Argentina during the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup between Italy and France at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany, Sunday 09 July 2006. EPA/WDR
Paris - The French woke up Monday suffering from a double hangover - how to accept the loss to the Italians in a game they dominated and how to explain an act of brutality by the football star they had come to revere.
If anything, Zinedine Zidane's attack on Italian defender Marco Materazzi, which led to his expulsion from the match, appears to have inflicted more pain than the penalty shoot-out loss to Italy.
As usual, the sports daily L'Equipe offered the most scathing commentary on the incident.
Addressing Zidane in a front-page editorial, the paper wrote, 'Do you know that the hardest thing this morning is not understanding why 'les Bleus'... last night lost a World Cup final they could have won? But explaining to tens of millions of children children all over the world how you could have allowed yourself to strike Marco Materazzi with your head.'
Describing the act as 'irreparable,' 'difficult to forgive' and 'stupid,' the newspaper asks, 'What are we to tell our children, all those for whom you became again a living example?'
From evidence gathered by the daily Le Parisien, the children had mixed reactions to Zidane's behaviour.
'It's Zidane's fault,' 8-year-old Ferdinand told the newspaper, referring to the French loss. 'Fouls like that you don't see every four years.'
But Louis, another Parisian child, told the daily that Mazeratti must have said something very grave for Zidane to react like that. 'I think he insulted him or his family.'
According to Jacques Camus, editorialist for the daily La Republique du Centre, 'The cruelest thing is that the Italians not only confiscated our championship trophy, they also stole the memorable exit from football (Zidane) wanted.'
Perhaps, Camus suggested, the fault was 'too much pressure' and 'too much idolatry around a player who prefers being unaffected and tranquil.'
Jean-Christophe Giesbert of the daily La Depeche du Midi cautioned 'the sermonizing censors' not to be too harsh on 'the great Zinedine Zidane by forgetting that the god of football is above all a man of flesh and blood subject, like all of us, to weaknesses and rages.'
Giesbert, too, was forgiving about the loss, writing, 'Let us not have regrets or rancour. France was magnificent in Germany. Simply magnificent.
Le Parisien took a similar tone. Below a front-page headline saying simply 'Thank you,' the daily wrote, 'We will remember the French team's journey, which was as extraordinary as it was unexpected.'
However, for a number of observers, the loss - coupled with Zidane's expulsion - was hard to swallow.
'A nasty and sad evening,' the daily L'Est Republicain wrote. 'Les Bleus have fallen from the firmament in the penalty shoot-out and left our hopes in tatters.'
Most emblematic of France's bittersweet feelings on Monday were perhaps the words of Francis Bochet in Le Progres: 'Thank you, anyway, Zizou. Thank you, les Bleus. The defeat is sad, enormously sad, but worthy.... We lost - and life goes on.'
However, a parade for the team along the Champs Elysees, which had been planned for Monday regardless of the results of the final, will not go on.
Just hours before the team was to lunch with French President Jacques Chirac on Monday, the French Football Federation announced that the parade had been cancelled.
Immediately after Sunday's loss, French coach Raymond Domenech had said he was against holding a parade for a defeat.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur