French footballer asked for headbutting statue to be removed
A bronze sculpture by Adel Abdessemed was taken down from display in Qatar late last month after Zinedine Zidane complained, a curator says
By Gareth Harris. Web only
Published online: 28 November 2013
The French footballer Zinedine Zidane is behind the removal in Qatar of a statue showing him headbutting the Italian defender Marco Materazzi, according to French press reports. The work was taken down at the end of October from the Corniche in Doha after Zidane raised concerns about the controversial work with the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA).
According to the French newspaper Le Monde, Zidane objected to the five-metre-high bronze sculpture by the Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed, entitled Coup de Tête (headbutt), which captures the 110th minute of the 2006 World Cup Final in Berlin when the sportsmen came to blows.
The work is reportedly owned by the QMA; meanwhile, an exhibition devoted to the artist is currently on show at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha (“Adel Abdessemed: l'âge d'or”, until 5 January 2014). Pier Luigi Tazzi, the show’s curator, writes in Le Monde: “We strongly suspect, via several credible sources, that Mr Zidane, in his capacity as a member of the World Cup 2022 organising committee… has influenced [either] directly or indirectly QMA’s decision to withdraw Abdessemed’s piece.”
Zidane, who was born in Marseilles to Algerian immigrants, was instrumental in helping Qatar with its bid to stage the 2022 World Cup. When the Gulf state won the competition in late 2010, Zidane called the decision “a victory for the Arab world”.
Both Fifa, football’s international governing body, and Zidane declined to comment. However, Zidane dismissed the claims in Le Monde, saying that the reported intervention was “unfounded”. The Qatar Museums Authority also declined to comment.
The Art Newspaper understands that the work is now in storage in Doha. The sculpture was first shown last year outside the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
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