Rich Galen

  • So me and about a billion other people watched for the next hour and thirty minutes with no goals being scored, and only one or two shots to show for all the running up and down the pitch.

  • Then, with about ten minutes to go in the second overtime period, the French star Zinedine Zidane (who had scored France's only goal) deliberately delivered a head butt into the chest of Italy's Marco Materazzi (who had scored Italy's only goal) knocking Materazzi flat on his estremità posteriore.

  • Zidane was given a red card and sent off. In international soccer if a player is ejected, the team can't replace him, so France had to do for the rest of the game with only 10 players.

  • The game and the overtimes ended in the one-one tie, so the whole think was decided on penalty kicks. Each side gets five chances. One player puts the ball on a mark about 12 yards in front of the goal and tries to knock it past the goalkeeper.

  • The French kicker missed on the third try. Italy hit all five of theirs and the deed was done.

  • Now, you can go to Europe this summer and discuss the World Cup. And, if you're anywhere other than France you can ask when the last time 30,000 Frenchmen sat in the Berlin Olympic Stadium and sang La Marseillaise.

  • Answer? Never.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: An explanation of the over/under thing, a short discussion of the red card thing, and a link to an English translation of the French national anthem which surprised me. Also a Mullfoto from a French bookstore the other day and a Catchy Caption of the Day appropriate to today's subject.

  • Rich Galen

    Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at