Qatar to re-install Zidane statue that sparked backlash

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Qatar plans to re-install a sculpture immortalizing French-Algerian soccer player Zinedine Zidane’s head butt during the 2006 World Cup final, which had been removed in 2013 amid a domestic backlash, the head of Qatar Museums said on Monday.

The 5-meter bronze work called “Coup de tête” was removed days after its unveiling after people in the conservative Muslim country criticised it for promoting idolatry and others said it encouraged violence.

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“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 site on the capital’s seafront corniche was “not right” and that the sculpture would be remounted at a new sports museum in Doha, which is hosting soccer’s World Cup later this year.

Some conservative Muslims believe artistic depictions of human forms should be forbidden to avoid idolatry.

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 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.”

Read more: Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup launches match ball ‘al-Rihla’

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