Zidane ‘headbutting’ statue given the red card in Qatar
watching from the sidelines as his team lost on penalties. Now, seven years later, his moment of madness has again caused a public outcry – this time in Qatar, of all places.
A 5m bronze statue of Zidane headbutting Materazzi has been removed from the popular Corniche in the capital city of Doha. The statue, which overlooked the waterfront, had been created by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed last year and named Coup de Tete – “headbutt” in English.
While the name is selfexplanatory, some locals found it more difficult to understand the reasoning behind the statue being put on display in Doha, with the Arabic hashtag “Zidane’s statue in Qatar” triggering sarcastic reactions on Twitter. One Tweet read “Congratulations for having new idols”, while another posted “It is sad that our youth see in this art and modernity.
“Our children do not differentiate between the right and the wrong, or the haraam (prohibited) and the halaal (permissible).”
The statue had proved an attraction for many tourists and expatriate workers, though, who flocked to see and take picture of it.
The statue had been in Doha for just over a month before being removed from the Corniche, with the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) having flown it in from the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
It will remain in Qatar, but at a less visible location, with Mathaf: The Museum of Modern Arab Art its new home.
Mathaf is but one of Qatar’s museums. The wealthy Gulf state also houses the flagship Museum of Islamic Art; the Orientalist Museum; and the Katara Art Gallery, with a new National Museum of Qatar being built for a December 2014 opening.
Indeed, Qatar has been on an ambitious drive to establish itself as a centre of culture in the Gulf and internationally, buying significant pieces of art from around the world, with the QMA at the forefront of the mission. Their strategy seems to be working – QMA head Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, the sister of the Emir of Qatar, was recently named the most influential figure in the art world in an annual “Power 100” list published by Britain’s ArtReview magazine.
The magazine reported that Sheikha Mayassa has about $1 billion (R10bn) a year to spend on art – 30 times more than New York’s renowned Museum of Modern Art.
“No wonder, then, that whenever Sheikha Mayassa is in town, everyone from government ministers to mayors queue up to pay their respects,” the magazine noted.
Qatar’s burgeoning status in the art world is reflected in its ability to attract the likes of iconic British artist Damien Hirst to the country, with his highly regarded Relics exhibition, the largest collection of his work yet assembled.
The exhibition explores the relationship between art, love, life, and death. Emotive subject matter, for sure, but it’s unlikely to create as much of a stir as the statue of Zidane headbutting Materazzi. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, that act of indiscipline has resulted in another red card.
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