June 8 – A statue of Zinedine Zidane’s infamous 2006 World Cup headbutt on Marco Materazzi is to be put back on display by Qatar authorities nine years after it was removed following a public backlash.
The statue was originally unveiled in Doha in 2013, only to be removed days later after being criticised for promoting idolatry and encouraging violence. Zidane was sent off for the foul and Italy went on to beat France on penalties.
The 5-metre bronze work by French artist Adel Abdessemed is to return in a new sports museum in Doha in time for this year’s World Cup in November.
Qatar’s Museums chief Sheikha al-Mayassa al-Thani, who is the sister of the ruling emir, explained: “Evolution happens in societies. It takes time and people may criticize something to begin with, but then understand it and get used to it.”
She said the original site on the capital’s seafront corniche was “not right” and that the sculpture would be remounted at its new home.
Al-Mayassa told reporters the aim of displaying the work was to promote conversations about “stress on athletes…and the importance of dealing with issues of mental health”.
“Zidane is a great friend of Qatar. And he’s a great role model for the Arab world,” she added. “Art, like anything else, is a matter of taste. Our goal is to empower people.”
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