A World Cup Teachable Moment

A soccer aficionado for decades, my father was dumbfounded by events at this year's final match between France and Italy. "I've never seen a captain of a team be thrown out of the finals and miss the medal ceremony," he said.

I, too, was shocked by the vicious head-butt that earned Zinedine Zidane a red card in the last minutes of the international world cup finals. St. Paul, however, would neither be surprised by Zidane's behavior nor by the universal international outrage:
  1. How can an inspiring human hero lose it and lash out in anger like that? Because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
  2. How can 1 billion people from different cultures agree that Zidane crossed a line, given the diversity of ethics across the planet? Because "when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them." (Romans 2:14)
Thanks to the brilliance of play he demonstrated in previous games, Zidane won the prestigious "Golden Ball" awarded to the tournament's best player. People won't remember him for his incredible athleticism, leadership, and endurance, however. He'll be memorialized instead by the behavior that led to his eviction and contributed to France's loss.

But the good news is that all fallen heroes are given another chance. Zidane can define his real legacy by emulating of one of Israel's greatest kings -- he can respond courageously with a broken, contrite spirit. Then young footballers around the planet might choose self-control instead of self-indulgence, and Zinedine Zidane, like King David, will see God's power revealed in his weakness.

And that's a far better reward than a Golden Ball.


Maggie said...

hi, i enjoyed reading your posts (seriously)- agree totally on the issue of Zidane, had the same thoughts while watching the match. and i understand that at this point self promotion is bad and may seem superficial, but nevertheless i couldn't resist the temptation of inviting you to my blog to check out one thingie. i'd appreciate it if you came around and said what you think. thanks in advance :-)

Anonymous said...

It's not a red flag, it's a red card.

Mitali Perkins said...

thanks, anon, I fixed it