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Coup de tête

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Coup de tête is one of the works in Adel Abdessemed’s exhibition at the David Zwirner gallery in New York. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf ‘brings together recent works that revolve around the themes of war, violence, and spectatorship’. Coup de tête depicts the most famous moment from the 2006 World Cup. It’s not the first time Zinédine Zidane has been made the subject of an artwork. Paul Myerscough wrote about Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s film Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait in October 2006:

Gordon’s film wouldn’t have been given a cinema release – his work is normally shown in galleries – if it hadn’t been for the way Zidane ended the last game of his career in July. Captaining France in the final of the World Cup, he was sent off for violent conduct: in what must immediately have become one of the most widely seen sporting images of all time, he drives his head – forcefully and, it must be said, with considerable grace – into Marco Materazzi’s chest. He was, he claimed later, responding to the Italian defender’s ‘very hard words’ about his mother and his sister…

no account of his interaction with Materazzi can account for his final self-immolation. If that’s what it was. Unlike any other player on the pitch that night in July, Zidane was the only one with nothing left to prove. He had won everything there was to win, every trophy, every personal honour, many of them several times over; and eight years earlier, he had scored two goals in France’s 3-0 World Cup Final victory over Brazil. How do you end a career like this? In this year’s final, Zidane missed his chance at the perfect climax – a winning goal in extra time to regain the cup for France – when Buffon, the Italian goalkeeper, tipped his powerful header over the bar. He was sent off minutes later. You couldn’t explain why by reading Materazzi’s lips, or by watching Zidane, or by studying the biography of this son of Algerian immigrants, the story of his rise from the poor northern suburbs of Marseille to become the greatest footballer in the world. There are, though, more economical forms of explanation, sometimes from unexpected sources. At a party the day after the game, a friend of mine overheard a psychoanalyst, asked why she thought he’d done it, reply: ‘You know, I think he’d just had enough.’

Comments on “Coup de tête”

  1. Guernican says:

    ‘You know, I think he’d just had enough.’

    Certainly the most elegant and satisfying explanation I’ve ever heard for his behaviour.

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