A statue immortalising Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt during the 2006 World Cup final will be re-installed in Qatar after it was removed in 2013 amid a domestic backlash, the head of Qater Museums said on Monday.
The 5-metre bronze work called “Coup de tete” was removed days after its unveiling after some people in the conservative Muslim country criticised it for promoting idolatry and others said it encouraged violence.
“Evolution happens in societies. It takes time and people may criticize something to begin with, but then understand it and get used to it,” said Qatar Museums Chairperson Sheikha al-Mayassa al-Thani, who is the sister of Qatar’s ruling emir.
She said the original public location of the statue was “not right” and that the sculpture would be remounted at a new sports museum in Doha, which is hosting the World Cup later this year.
Some conservative Muslims believe artistic depictions of human forms should be forbidden to avoid idolatry. Although statues are on public display in many Muslim countries, they are less common in the Arab Gulf.
The sculpture by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed depicts the moment during extra time in the 2006 World Cup final when Zidane head-butted Italy‘s Marco Materazzi. Zidane was sent off in his final match as a professional footballer, and Italy went on to beat France on penalties.
Al-Mayassa told reporters the aim of displaying the work was to promote conversations about “stress on athletes…and the importance of dealing with issues of mental health.”
“Zidane is a great friend of Qatar. And he’s a great role model for the Arab world,” she said. “Art, like anything else, is a matter of taste. Our goal is to empower people.”