The head of Qatar Museums said on Monday that a statue immortalized in the head of Zinedine Zidane during the 2006 World Cup final will be reinstalled in Qatar after it was removed in 2013, amid a local backlash.
The five-meter-high bronze “Coup de tete” was removed days after it was unveiled after some people in the conservative Islamic state criticized it for promoting paganism and others said it encouraged violence.
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“Development happens in societies. It takes time and people may criticize something at first, but then they understand and get used to it,” said Qatar Museums President, Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani, sister of Qatar’s ruling Emir.
She said the original public location of the statue was “not correct” and that the statue would be renumbered in a new sports museum in Doha, which is hosting the World Cup later this year.
Some conservative Muslims believe that artistic depiction of human figures should be prohibited to avoid idolatry. Although the statues are displayed to the public in many Muslim countries, they are less common in the Persian Gulf.
The statue, painted by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdel Samad, depicts the moment during extra time in the 2006 World Cup final when Zidane headed Italy’s Marco Materazzi. Zidane was sent off in his last match as a professional footballer, and Italy went on to beat France on penalties.
Al-Mayassa told reporters that the aim of the job offer was to encourage conversations about “the pressure on athletes… and the importance of dealing with mental health issues.”
“Zidane is a wonderful friend of Qatar. He is 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.”