Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sad Day for France

Gina and I decided to really follow the World Cup this year to get more accustomed to the sport that pervades our future country of residence, France (and the rest of the known world). We absolutely loved it. We watched many of the matches.

Today's championship match was a huge disappointment to French sports fans for more reasons than one. The most obvious disappointment was that France lost the game in penalty kicks after 2 15-minute overtime periods. The bigger disappointment, however, was that one of the best players to ever play the game (Zinedine Zidane) was given a red card (kicked out of the game) in the second over-time period for leveling Italy's Marco Materazzi's with a head-butt after words were exchanged. The 34 year old Zidane was to retire after this World Cup. France was an unlikely candidate to even make it to this game after ties in there first two matches of this year's Cup. They later turned it around to upset the World Cup favorite Brazilians and Portugal to make it to todays final match. Each unlikely win gave team captain, Zidane one more match before retirement. He had a chance to go out as the man that led the French to another World Cup championship. Now he will go out as a man retiring who lost his head and was not present at the medal ceremonies.

What happened? What did the Italian player say that triggered the anger (reportedly a racial slur)? Why would a player in such a public game (World Cup championship, retiring after game) do something so stupid? The commentators said he was one of the best players to play the game along with players like Pele and Beckenbauer. He absolutely humiliated himself in front of approximately 5 billion worldwide viewers (more than 5 times that of the 2006 Superbowl ).

I am reminded of how many times I have lost my head in anger with my wife or my kids or maybe a co-worker when I knew better; when I knew the consequences; when I knew how stupid I would feel later. But I still did it. Why? With so much to lose, why do we feel we feel the need to release our anger toward others?

Satan knows how to push our buttons. He knows what it takes to get us to feel an uncontrollable urge to make bad decisions that really cost us. He knows how to get us to give in to momentary satisfaction at the cost of long term consequences. The Holy Spirit, however, gives us restraint. Without the HS living in us we don't have a chance.

Why did Zidane do what he did? I don't know. I'm sure in the coming days we will see a lot of speculation, but we may never know for sure. One thing that I do know is that there is a life illustration in this somewhere.

Pray for France. Pray for Zinedine Zidane.

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