Sport #02: Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is hot topic nowadays.

He became the the first football manager who able to win back to back Europe Champions League in modern era. As written by Hayward in his feature opening for GOAL, that “not many predicted a bright future for Zinedine Zidane as a manager.” So to win seven out of nine trophies within one and half year should be more than enough to say that the French is more than capable on his position.

Within twenty months, Zidane transformed Real Madrid to match Barcelona during Guardiola era. Once again football lovers around the globe were shocked to see how the rich boys from the capital city finally can step out of the shadow of their Catalans rival. Zizou changed Madrid from a big spender club to be the most profitable team during the summer transfer. He succeed to offloads players like James Rodriguez to Beyern, Danilo to Manchester City and Alvaro Morata to London. In total, he only spent 82.5 millions in two summer transfers.

For your info, he only bought Theo Hernadez (19 y.o) and Dani Ceballos (21) this summer. These players cost him less than 47 millions euro. It less than one four of the price paid by Paris Saint Germain to Barcelona to lure Neymar. The former France captain also called Jesus Vallejo, Borja Mayoral, Marcos Llorente and Achraf Hakimi back home. These six shared one thing in common: they all are young. It brought pundits to compare Zidane favor for youth to the similar path taken by Barcelona, years ago.

When Los Cules won six out six trophies in one single year, they had Valdez as goalkeeper, Puyol and Pique at the heart of their defensive line, Xavi, Iniesta and Busquet in midfield, Messi and Pedro in their frontline. These names played regularly and shared one thing in common: graduates of La Masia.

But the most interesting thing from Zidane for me is not his trophies both as player or as coach. But his background and his attitude as a son of Algerian immigrants couple who went to France for a better life. His parents emigrated to Paris from northern Algeria a year before the Algerian war of revolution for independence started. His parents are both Kabyle of Berbers, the second largest ethnolinguistic group who are native to the northern part of Africa.

Zizou was born in Marseille in 1972 as youngest of five, after his parents moved out from Saint-Dennis in the northern part of the Paris. Toughest area at that time. Born as immigrant and came from a colonial country in Africa never been easy to anyone. Zidane was no exception.

The former winner of Ballon d’Or in 1998 was born and raised as Muslim. Zidane obeyed and kept his faith during intense season where he need to play for 90 minutes during the fasting month. Despite that he became the national hero after led his country to win their first World Cup tittle, one need to be honest that it doesn’t changed the fact that whistling migrants and color people during the game still happens. In France, black and Muslim players are still facing discrimination despite their skills on the pitch. Eto’o was once pelted with banana skin. Daniel Alves often had to deal with those who are booed him because of his skin color.

You are delusional if believes that football as mass sport with millions of people involved in many different layers is totally free from racism, discrimination, workers exploitation and so on. Andy Cole once highlighted that no black coach in Premier League shows that football still far to be called fair. Count with me how many you could find black coach who lifted the Champions League Cup.

So one can’t say there is no racism in France simply because they gave birth to numbers of philosophers or because the country went for a revolution that overthrew monarchy and opened the way for republic. Racism is exist everywhere and it fire keep alive by thousand of morons. That’s why supporting St. Pauli still make sense or having an ANTIFA group within broad sphere of supporter of football club is worth to do. Football is always in constant threat of coup by these racists. You can see it clearly and understood why SS Lazio and Di Canio are match made in hell of racism.

Plus, we need to admit that Hitler might died years ago but the idea of white power still exist and each of us have our specific role: whether you want to side with those morons or stand up against it. Very simple choice but almost impossible to do when you were blinded with an idea that football is neutral and all about ideology should be put as far as it could from the sport.

That was one of the reason why I turned to be one of his supporter when Zidane bravely headbutted the infamous Materazzi during the World Cup final 11 years ago. Despite the fact that I was never his fans on the pitch because he went to play for Juventus and Real Madrid after two stints at Cannes and Bordeaux.

For me personally, Zidane’s headbutt stretched far beyond “a simple reactionary move” as told by many. It was great feeling for me to be honest to see a racist being kicked in his ass before eyes of millions. Zidane’s headbutt was heroic personally because he showed how one can easily drop everything in terms of glory and trophy to defend yourself against racists. It was perfect because it happened in Berlin, a place with strong dark memories towards Jews, homosexuals, communists, gypsy and color people.

That was the biggest gift gave by Zidane to all football lovers around the world. That, racism have no place everywhere. Even at the World Cup final.

PS: In Indonesia, when we talk about how PERSIPURA of Jayapura Papua as symbol of ongoing struggle against Indonesia-state racism and discrimination, people always pointed me out as “over-politico”. A term to define one that obsessed on defining everything and sees things from political point of view.

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