The match was sold out. There were 70,000 people at the stadium and there were a billion people watching the match in televisions around the world. My wife and I we were at the stadium. So where many other friends. 999,930,000 people however were not. They watched World Cup final on TVs, and the paradox is that both spectators and TV viewers saw a very similar game until Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi, an act that was censored at the stadium´s TV monitors.

What followed was a total disconnect between what was happening at the stadium and what was happening on TV. My calculation is that Italians plus French did not make more than 20% of the attendance of the Stadium, and in that 20% it was 3 to 1 Italians. But the other 80% seemed to be mostly with the Italians until the expulsion of Zidane. The Italians had played a good first half although the second half was dominated by the French.

Moments before his red card Zidane had almost scored a beautiful goal celebrated by most football fans. So not knowing what had happened and with the stadium TV sets censoring Zidane´s headbut, the public went MAD over their hero´s expulsion. During the last minutes of play and the penalties uninformed spectators simply HATED the Italians. The Italians were booed every time they got the ball and by the time they shot the penalties the public was furious against them. Booo! Booo! Non stop booing all but the hard core Italian fans were against the Italians. But when I finally saw the video of what Zidane actually did, I felt cheated.

Why did they not show that video at the stadium? While I was rooting for the French, because of my wife, I was one of those angry fans who could not comprehend what had happened, why Zidane had been expelled and I ended up hating the referee, who happens to be a compatriot of mine and had acted reasonably. And not only were we cheated at the stadium, but so was the whole Italian team. Much fewer people than normal stayed to celebrate the coronation of the Italians. More people clapped when the French got their medals than when the Italians got the Cup.

Also, interestingly, the anti Italian sentiment was so strong at the stadium that it is a miracle that the Italians, who normally do poorly in penalties, did so well. Every time they shot people booed them. And the lies went on. Not only were we lied to at the stadium, but close to a billion people were lied to on TV as to the mood at the field after the Italian win. Spectators were disappointed, they felt cheated by a referee they could not understand. TVs however, showed a party mood that was mostly non existent. Nobody likes to lose, but in this case everyone felt that the Italians had stolen their victory. TV camera´s focused on the few Italians who were celebrating while most non French spectators would have celebrated alongside the Italians if they had not felt so angry over a Zidane they deemed a martyr.

It is hard to exagerate what this wrongly perceived unfair expulsion of a football hero in the last 5 minutes of his career did to the general mood in the stadium. I don´t think it´s an exageration to say that ignorance ruined the celebration in the field. Personally, I think that FIFA who manages the TV scenes made a huge mistake not showing the headbut to us in the field. The game had been a good until then, people were excited. But then the match turned into an incomprehensible rumour mill amplified by numerous sms going around that people were getting from friends watching TV at home and saying that something really bad had happened. What? Everyone asked in the field. What could be so bad?

My take on all this is that FIFA, which in itself is a pretty undemocratic organization, managed this crisis in a very undemocratic manner. Why did they deprive us of essential information? Many people talk about changing the rules of football, a larger goal, less players are among commongly announced projects. But before doing that what about showing people in the field the same images that people see at home? What is the point of having huge TVs inside the stadium but censoring key footage? More transparency would be a good way to start changing the rules for the better.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter:

No Comments

XL on July 10, 2006  · 

First, Zidane is Zidane, the best player since “DIOS MARADONA” but if some one that plays in the team with my former colleagues (Juventos) start to said to me (2 times) that my sister is a bitch I will respond, but the worst is that Materazzi attacked his algerian origin in a very despective way…

Any way seems that you don’t go so often to footbal, usually is forbidden repeat images of the match, during world cup they did a test, but they try to avoid the influence of the people over the refree…

3.0 rating

pierre.chappaz on July 10, 2006  · 

You are right Martin why did Fifa censored the images in the stadium??? We could not understand what had happened. I immediately posted a question on my blog and got many many commentaries ( , in french)and also images posted on youtube. No doubt that Zidane committed an agression, but we do not know why? What happened before?? One other question is: why in this case did Fifa relied on video, and not in the first minute of the match when Henry was litteraly shot down, nor on the italian goal when a fault was committed against Viera?? Too bad that at this level of game the results are biaised by misconduct from both sides…

3.0 rating

Luca on July 10, 2006  · 


3.0 rating

EGomezz on July 10, 2006  · 

How come that it is a red-carded player that is selected as best world cup player?!!! Is it fair play?!

3.0 rating

XL on July 11, 2006  · 

In 1998 he was gold ballon too and he didn’t play 2 matches for a sanction…

Just for lost 8 minutes of World cup, you’rent excluded… If he was the best he was the best… doesn’t care how dirty he play…

3.0 rating

Pippa on July 11, 2006  · 

I didn’t think of that till just now. Have just done post on the final. Pop by if you want.

3.0 rating

Killy_the_frog on July 11, 2006  · 

Zidane is a great player, BUT he is human !!!!!!!!
So, he can lose his mind, over react, or fall into the trap of provocation… and end to do stupid stuffs, (His reaction is stupid because France team need him for the penalty). But, “c’est la vie”. He is still a great player, and that is good.

I also think the FIFA should give some punishments to Materazzi if he said racist stuffs. For me the one who loose prestige is not really Zidane, but Materazzi…

The sad fact is that now what is important is not how we win, but only to win… because history will only remember Italy win. Italy has now win 4 times…

3.0 rating

Roy S. on July 11, 2006  · 

did nobody see what took place before the headbut incident? You can see it here…a good old nippletwist and some bad words.

You can see it here:

3.0 rating

Paolo Gagliardi on July 11, 2006  · 

Football players do to each others any kind of nasty stuff during a game: they use very bad words, they spit into their faces, often they play harder than allowed. But, a physical aggression is NEVER justified, inside and outside a soccer field. With regards to what Martin said, I agree: misinformation generates ignorance, and ignorance generates wrong behaviours. I am only wondering: what would have happened, at least between the hard-core fans of the two sides, if those images would have been shown? Still good chances for those 70.000 people to leave the stadium safely? I couldn’t tell.

3.0 rating

Giorgio on July 13, 2006  · 

I agree with Paolo:bad words and bad behaviours are seen in every football field, from ten-years-old-players to first division.The problem is that, in this case, the reaction was not proportioned to the offence
I agree with you Martin when you say that people at the stadium couldn’t be able to understand the situation but, in order to keep the fans “cool”, I think that those images couldn’t be shown
In Italy, in less important matches, they don’t even show replays:and the only reason is that they don’t want the spectators to be aware of some kind of “injustice” that could have happened on the field (and that could make them angry).Of course if people at the stadium were more civil, maybe we could see all the instant replays

3.0 rating

Yffic on July 14, 2006  · 

Since about 25 years, one can better see on television what is going on than what the referee sees. Since about 25 years, American basketball has a Video-referee who sees the replay and advices the referee on the field. The FIFA and Sepp Blatter prefer to have 1 billion people seeing that there is no penalty during a World Cup final, and having a bad referee decision, rather than having a 4th Video-referee. Those guys in the footbaal world are still living in the 19th Century. Go away Sepp, please, go away !!!

3.0 rating

Anonymous on July 20, 2006  · 

Several commentators have indicated that the replay should not be shown on the stadium’s monitors until after the referee had made a ruling. They have to SEE the incident first-hand, and cannot be swayed by replays.

Of course after the red-card was given, then it could have been shown…

3.0 rating

Leave a Comment

Español / English

Subscribe to e-mail bulletin:
Recent Tweets