DOHA, Qatar – A statue of a French soccer player head-butting an Italian player has been removed from a public space in Qatar, after an angry backlash on social media.
Qatar’s Museums Authority unveiled the 16-foot statue of French player Zinedine Zidane head-butting Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup about a month ago, but now has taken it down from a Doha waterfront.
The sculpture—by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed-- drew criticism on social networks from Muslim conservatives who complained that glorifying the violent incident set a poor example for the country’s youth, and bordered on idolatry, according to a report in The New York Times.
Others argued it's wrong to honor Zidane's unsportsmanlike act in striking Materazzi after the Italian kicker insulted him.
A spokeswoman for the public art authority told the Doha News that the work—called “Coup de Tete”—has been moved to the Museum of Arab Art in the Qatari capital.
Before the Qatar Museums Authority bought the statue, it was exhibited without objection in France and then Italy.
Doha News publisher Omar Chatriwala told the Times that the main objection in the Qatari capital “was that we don’t put up statues of anyone,” and that once the discussion of the sculpture turned to its propriety, “the message of fallible heroes was lost.”
Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.