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<nettime> If ever there was a doubt that Zidane was a great hero, there
Rana Dasgupta on Tue, 18 Jul 2006 00:10:36 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> If ever there was a doubt that Zidane was a great hero, there is no longer

[delayed due to technical issues  {AT}  nettime]

Dany Laferri?re is a francophone novelist from Haiti now living between
Montreal and Miami. His commentary on the Zidane "header", which I found
on the blog of Alain Mabanckou, a wonderful Congolese novelist -


- is radical and fascinating, so I've done a rough translation.


I didn't sleep much last night for trying to understand Zidane?s
gesture, especially since all the opinions I heard resembled each other
so much it was as if only one person had watched the match.  The more
there are of us, the more we seem to have the same opinion.  I am always
suspicious of a crowd that speaks with one voice.  And it seemed that
everyone was feeling sorry for Zidane: an unworthy end to the career of
a great champion.  It?s strange, but this version seemed just too
bourgeois to me.  In fact people weren?t really sorry for Zidane: they
were only speaking about themselves.  Zidane was just a character from
the fairy story they told themselves each night before going to bed.
Hardly a month ago, Zidane was only an old, tired player.  Now he?s a
fallen knight.

In the old, more bloody fables of the Brothers Grimm, a red card ending
was acceptable.  But today, in this strange epoch when everyone seems to
have drunk Disney milk in their childhood, no one tolerates anything but
rosy endings.  Everything must finish happily.  Our heroes must be
loveable before we will file them away in the cupboard of our happy
memories.  So what does that leave for Zidane?  Zidane, the exemplary
father, the discreet man who has led a faultless career?  These are the
epithets people have stuck on him like medals.

Maybe it?s true, but what gets lost?  What did he have to swallow before
that fateful  moment?  What did he have to endure silently before
deciding to take his life back again?  Before becoming once again the
proud young boy who played in the streets of Marseille?  The one whom
one could never insult with impunity about his mother or his race?

Marseille is not a joke.  The National Front is not far away.  And
Zidane is a child of that epoch.  Has Zidane ever believed in the
adulation of the crowd, that monster that kills what it loves?  There
will come a moment when he knows he will find himself looking at a man
he abandoned long ago for money and fame, and that man is himself,
Zinedine Zidane.  I don?t believe that the Italian player said to him
anything that he couldn't stand to hear.  Simply, he felt that this was
the moment.  His last match, the finale of the World Cup, at the very
end.  It was this moment or never.  Otherwise, he had sold himself for

Don?t speak to him of lost dignity.  This gesture was precisely about
dignity, and he made it to recover some of his honour.  This was his
moment.  He had already given everything to his team.  Now it was for
himself.  Eight seconds out of a career of nearly twenty years.  Because
if he didn?t do it then, it would all be over.  Anyway, he was
exhausted, and the team could do without him.

I think that there are some moments in life which belong only to those
who live them, and to no-one else.  The moment when one refuses to play
always appears stupid in the eyes of others.  But what value has the
pride of the collectivity when compared to the intimate pride of the
individual?  Just because there are many people watching a game, they
all believe that it?s only a game.  Zidane?s act was the intrusion of
weighty reality into the game.  Zidane is not playing anymore.  He
breaks the codes with a blow of his head.

I remember the moment of Charlebois?s death-blow, when he threw his
drums at the French public.  In France, everyone was astonished by such
behaviour, and yet in Quebec, Charlebois instantly became a
counter-cultural icon.  They sensed something liberating in his gesture.
 For Zidane, it will be the same thing.  Young rappers will surely
introduce into their video clips the eight seconds where Zidane left the
game to re-enter their stifling reality.  For once, Zidane, who was
legendary for never allowing his temperature to rise, embraced all those
who do not know how to behave in public.  His brothers from the street
whose blood is still boiling.

Comment by "Sami"

?If there were any doubts about the fact that Zidane was one of the best
players in the history of football, after the final there can be no
more!? wrote the popular Russian daily, Komsomolskaia Pravda, before
adding, ?Only an epic hero, a titan, a Hercules could depart like that.?
 Dany Laferri?re?s very personal commentary echoes that of many
journalists around the world.  Nine seconds which make an absolute human
out of a being whose shoulders would have been crushed by the image of a
god hung on him.  The beauty of that gesture and its deep meaning are
worth more than a gold trophy.  For me, this entire World Cup could have
been organized only so that we could see this astonishing culmination:
this header that sought not the goal but a chest from which poisonous
words flowed.  For that alone, Zidane deserves the immortality that had
already been predicted for him.  As for the disappointment of others,
they can do with it whatever they wish.  They are truly some moments
when others come after yourself, for they are not the essential.
Especially when you understand their talent for condemning their
instrumentalised heroes to absolute solitude.


Rana Dasgupta

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