Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Mother of All Insults

If indeed Marco Materazzi did impugn Zinédine Zidane's mother as a prostitute or a terrorist or perhaps both (busy woman!) in Sunday's World Cup Final debacle that concluded with Zizou head-butting the Italian's chest, an ancient ritual was being played out. An Italian might well have reflex recourse to such an anti-motherly jibe, particularly when he was embroiled in the shirt-pulling petulance that overtook leading exponents of the beautiful game in the last minutes of extra time in the most important football match in four years. "It's quite important to realise that this is a ritual," says Cameron. "To say something outrageous in this way is part of a provocative ritual rather than reality. If your mother was indeed a sex worker, the insult would be very different and less potent."

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