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Qatar takes down statue of 'headbutting' soccer players after backlash

  • Sept. 26, 2012 - FILE photo of a sculpture by French artist Adel Abdessemed in front of Paris' Centre Pompidou art museum in France. The future hosts of the World Cup in Qatar have decided a statue depicting one of the tournament's most talked-about moments is not worthy of public display.AP

  • FILE - In this Wednesday Sept. 26, 2012 file photo, a couple walk past a sculpture by French artist Adel Abdessemed in front of Paris' Centre Pompidou modern art museum in France. The future hosts of the World Cup in Qatar have decided a statue depicting one of the tournament's most talked-about moments is not worthy of public display. Officials in Doha ordered the removal of a five-meter (16-foot) bronze statue of French footballer Zinedine Zidane's infamous headbutt of Italy's Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)The Associated Press

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.

Click for more from the New York Times. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.