(Kinshasa) Congolese squad MAZEMBE will play against the European champion Inter Milano on Saturday. Considering my upcoming trip to Goma, I will of course be rooting for MAZEMBE tomorrow! And, I expect there won't be any headbutting for whatever reason, please. This is the first time any team not from Europe or South America has made it to the FIFA Club World Cup final match. Watch the semifinal video and check out articles on the Congolese fans, on Diyoko Kaluyituka, and on the MAZEMBE team in general.
Now, Cameroonian star of Inter Milano Samuel Eto'o headbutted a player as recently as November 21, 2010. This example is interesting because the referee didn't ever catch the foul, and it did not affect the course of the game at all. Eto'o's headbutt was caught by the TV, though, and he eventually received a three-game suspension.
Soccer/football may not be as bad as hockey, but it has its share of drama and violence. Headbutting is probably the worst intentional fighting that occurs.
Zinedine Zidane's headbutt and red-card in the 1996 World Cup final shocked the world, and helped France lose the game. But this is only the most famous example. I don't know how long it's been around soccer/football, but headbutting during the game is a consistent phenomenon around the world now. One Brazilian indoor soccer player even headbutted his referee!
Let's not neglect the flip side of the headbutting, which is common racial insults on the field and in the stands. Although he's evidently not a pacifist, Eto'o is reluctantly but routinely forced into the role of racial statesman. He won't even bring his children to his matches so they won't have to see the frequent racist treatment. This video shows Eto'o walking off the field in protest during a 2005 match where he received racist jeers from some of the crowd.
I expect this game won't have problems though. It's a collegial atmosphere, and set in the international city of Abu Dhabi.
Noon EST, Saturday 12/18! MAZEMBE!