Qatar removes Zidane headbutt statue from Corniche

Foreign workers shine Zinedine Zidane statue (file photo) The statue of Zidane, by Adel Abdessemed, went on display on 3 October

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A five-metre (16ft) bronze statue of French footballer Zinedine Zidane's infamous headbutt has been taken down from the Corniche in Doha, Qatar.

The sculpture was removed just weeks after being installed, having prompted strong reactions on social media.

It generated criticism from religious conservatives who believe it encourages idolatry; others thought it promoted violence or was in bad taste.

It portrays Zidane headbutting Italy's Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup.

Created by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed in 2012, it had previously been on show at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. It was bought by the Qatari Museum Authority.

Local reports say the statue - known as Coup de Tete or headbutt - is going to be housed along with other works by Abdessemed in the Arab Museum of Modern Art.

'New idols'

The Arabic hashtag "Zidane's statue in Qatar" triggered a "massive" reaction from dismayed conservatives on Twitter, said AFP, with one user sarcastically posting: "Congratulations for having new idols."

"It is sad that our youth see in this art and modernity. Our children do not differentiate between the right and the wrong, or the haram [prohibited] and the halal [permissible]," said another tweeter.

However another poster criticised the removal: "Seriously they moved the headbutt statue from the corniche? that's stupid."

"It definitely was relevant to football, a sport loved in this country! as for the culture, no relevance whatsoever," other comments said.

The statue's craftsmanship and symbolism were earlier praised as "timeless as Greek mythological works of art" by the Jean-Paul Engelen, director of Public Art at the Qatari Museum Authority.

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