Posted by: Steve Coplan | July 12, 2006

The headbutt

(courtesy of Mads Boedker)

Searches on whether Marco Materazzi is Jewish seem to have accounted for an alarmingly high number of visits to Noodnik. I’d have to assume that these searches assume in turn that the only motivation for Materazzi to target Zizou with the provocation that prompted him to lash out physically was a religious one. I’d have to say that the assumption is narrow-minded and blind to the context.

I am no expert on the subject (or on Materazzi), and it’s probably imprudent to extrapolate from Oriana Fallaci’s views but I’d venture that by and large Italian attitudes toward Islam are not what you could describe as enlightened. According to SOS Racisme, Materazzi called Zizou a ‘dirty terrorist’, and by his own admission is a uncultured lout. His only real motivation was to distract Zizou by being insulting as possible.

I am willing to wager that Materazzi is not Jewish, since he is from Lecce, and the last time there was a sizable community in the town was some five centuries ago. Here’s a New York Times article on the some of the remnants of Jewish communities being uncovered in Southern Italy and another on the persistence of Greek amongst these communities.


Zizou has apologized publicly for his reaction, and his act has justifiably been seen as an anomaly after an amazing career. Still, this YouTube video (seen almost 800,000 times in the space of a day) takes a lighter view of the incident.

Also, a great commentary from Rootless Cosmopolitan from his day job.



  1. Interesting. Italy is like France: some communities have a neo-nazi view of Muslims (they hate them), others love them absurdly (on Jerry Lewis levels).

    Welcome to the TSOYA link list. I’m on it as well.

  2. As I noted, I am no expert on Italian attitudes toward Islam but I am pretty sure that Materazzi is a thug and that he insulted Zizou to distract him. It’s really an unfortunate swansong but I think Zizou is doing his best to salvage his reputation as a human bing and not just a talented soccer.

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