Zidane's Soccer Headbutt Sculpture on Display in Paris

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Aaron Schachter: It was the head butt seen by hundreds of millions around the globe. You know the one. Soccer World Cup final 2006. French star Zinedine Zidane driving his shaved head into the chest of an Italian defender, allegedely in reaction to an insult about his sister. Instant red card, game over for Zidane, and infamy on the last day of his career. And Italy goes on to win the World Cup. In soccer terms it's ancient history now, but the head butt, the moment of madness from one of the game's best players lives on, especially now that it's been immortalized with a bronze statue in front of the Centre Pompidou art museum in Paris. Adel Abdessemed is the sculptor who created the work, Coup de tete. Mr. Abdessemed, what was it about that moment in sporting history that inspired you to make this work?

Adel Abdessemed: Today we celebrate always the glory, you know, victory, the people who win, you know. And this sculpture, it's talking about one man when he lose, celebrate defeat.

Schachter: That's a very good description. I must admit, and I guess I'm not as thoughtful as you are, but when I first saw it I thought, my goodness, that's glorifying violence.

Abdessemed: You know, for me, I did see it as you, I think, as everybody, as violent. But you know, if you take this way, what he did, Zidane, for me he expressed liberty as a human because he was like, at that time, he was like as a man, you know, as not like

Schachter: He was not a god, he was a man.

Abdessemed: Yes, that's it, and he expressed liberty for me, you know.

Schachter: Yes, absolutely, I understand, but from a sporting perspective, it wasn't a very sportsmanlike thing to do.

Abdessemed: Of course, of course, of course. But you know violence is always like a reaction, you know. Like opposites, you know. And this way we can say he express his freedom.

Schachter: When this happened, back in 2006, there was a lot of debate over whether it was a good thing or a bad thing. I wonder what the reaction has been there in Paris to your sculpture.

Abdessemed: You know, I don't want to [xx] basically. I think they are very happy, they are very excited, and this is what I can't receive more than that.

Schachter: Do you know if Mr. Zidane has seen it?

Abdessemed: I wish. I don't know. But I wish, yeah.

Schachter: Was it a big moment for you in 2006? Are you a fan of the professional game?

Abdessemed: Not really, I am, you can say, I watch only World Cup, that is all, that's it.

Schachter: Especially when France is involved. Adel Abdessemed's exhibition opens next week at the Pompadou Centre in Paris. It is much more than the sculpture of Zinedine Zidane that we're speaking about. And thank you, sir, for your time.

Abdessemed: Thank you very much.

Schachter: We have a photo of the Zidane head butt sculpture at TheWorld.org.

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