Enhanced Performance Systems - ICCS


In the 2006 Soccer Word Cup Final between France and Italy, Zinedine Zidane scored the first goal for France on a penalty kick seven minutes into the game.  Then, in the 19th minute of the game Marco Materazzi of Italy evened the score at 1-1. The score remained tied through the ninety minutes of regulation play and into the overtime period. 


With overtime running out it was become clear that the game would be decided by a shootout between the two teams.  If so, France was a decided favorite to win the championship in large part because Zidane was recognized as the best in the world when it came to scoring goals in critical situations, when everything was hanging in the balance.  So it was in the 110th minute of play as the Italian Materazzi and Zidane began to move up the field together that Materazzi verbally insulted Zidane. 


Zidane who had a reputation for his temper responded to the insult the way a bull responds to a red flag.  His focus of concentration narrowed in on Materazzi, he forgot about the situation and the possible consequences of his actions and took his anger out on Materzzi.  He subsequently received a red card, was ejected from the game, and thus was unable to participate in the shoot.  Italy won the shootout and the world cup, in large part because of a momentary lose of control over anger.  A loss of control that could have been avoided had Zidane seen the need, and been willing to do so. 


The narrowing of one’s focus of concentration in response to anger and/or anxiety, and the corresponding difficulty that narrowing creates for you when you have to make decisions, problem solve, and strategize can have devastating effects on you and the organization, especially when the ball so to speak is in your hands.  Especially when you are the one in position to win it, or lose it.