The foul and subsequent injury happened very quickly, and it seemed like a very typical soccer injury - nobody really at fault. And most of the articles I headlines I'd crossed for the first couple of days after the injury seemed to back up the fact that it was simply a fair challenge and Djibril Cisse came out on bottom. But the truth is much uglier.
Upon my first watching of the Zheng Zhi takedown of Cisse on YouTube (note that the announcers get it all wrong, as they often do), it was immediately apparent that Zhi had fouled Cisse by kicking him in the back of his right leg - (they were running down the field alongside each other). This kick was to Cisse's right leg - on the side of Cisse that was further from Zhi (clear in this YouTube video). It would prove the fatal blow for Cisse, as his right leg swung out from the force of being kicked from behind and snapped as Cisse tried to plant it in the turf at an awkward ankle.
To the right is a still of the point of contact between Zhi's foot and the back of Cisse's right leg.
This was a straight up mugging. A brutal mugging that resulted in two broken bones in Cisse's lower leg. I don't even know if there was a foul called on the play - obviously there should have been, but I do know that it certainly was a foul and it ended up breaking Cisse's leg. It's clear on the replay, in slow motion. It's also clear to see Zhi throws both hands up in the air as if to say, "It wasn't me! I'm not a crook!"
Leave it to a Gulf Newspaper is you want real reporting:
Cisse, France’s top goalscorer in qualifying, was cut down by China captain Zheng Zhi in the 10th minute.
Why is Zhi an asshole? Because he said this after he crushed Cisse's leg and Cisse's dreams of playing in the World Cup:
"I was taking advantage of my position and engaged with him bodily but I didn't expect Cisse to be injured after he fell to the ground," Zheng told news agency Xinhua.
"Football matches are just like this. Every professional player could be injured on the pitch."
In other words, "Look - I didn't do anything wrong. It's all part of the game. Shit happens."
And then his asshole coach follows up:
"One of the Chinese team's purposes for this match is to the French team warm up for a better performance in the World Cup, so our players played within the rules throughout the match," he said.
In other words, "Fuck you and fuck Cisse."
I acknowledge that there could be some translation issues here, but it's pretty clear that these words were not meant as any sort of apology.
For the record, what should the proper response from Zhi have been? How about...?
Djibril - I'm really sorry man. I definitely kicked you - but I never in a million years intended to mess you up like this, and have you miss the World Cup, man. I'm really sorry, man.
I'd also like to see an apology to France national team supporters everywhere, and an acknowledgement that he definitely didn't break Cisse's leg on purpose. Unless, of course, he did break Cisse's leg on purpose. In that case, he should be banned from all football forever.
We should not that in this same game Zheng Zhi fouled Zidane hard in the box, which resulted in a penalty kick for France.
Now, those like myself who were completely unfamiliar with Zhi before his criminal deed in this friendly with France, might be thinking I'm being a bit harsh on this Zhi cat. But, I soon discovered that Mr. Zhi is anything but Mr. Decent and Fair:
Chinese international midfielder Zheng, who was banned for spitting at a match official during an Asian Champions League quarter-final tie with Al Ittihad, will now be able to play for his club from the start of the 2006 China Super League season, and can also represent the national team during the six-month period.
Spitting at match officials - nice. Exactly what we've come to expect of Mr. Zhi.
Perusing the net a bit more I stumble upon an 'action shot' of Mr. Zhi performing the same type of criminal activity her performed against Cisse - this time was against Costa Rica.
Finally, we don't want to give the impression that breaking both of one's lower leg bones is a walk in the park - that the only thing to worry about here was that Cisse was going to miss the World Cup. There also happens to be a great deal of pain involved.
It's too bad these assholes - Zhi and his coach - didn't make the World Cup finals. I would have loved to see them get their asses handed to them.
Mr. Zhi, what goes around comes around. Break a leg, kid!
UPDATE: It just occurred to me that Cisse's leg was probably already broken, at least with a hairline fracture, by the time he tried to plant it. When Zhi kicked Cisse in the back of his right leg, it was really perfectly timed for maximum damage. Cisse certainly couldn't have expected it, and his right foot was just set in the turf enough to allow Zhi the maximum amount of impact from his strike. It's kind of like the 'old lady broke her hip when she fell down' story - she actually broke it and then fell. Same story here, except Cisse didn't just fall - another player, Zheng Zhi, actually broke his leg in two (or four).
UPDATE: Just perusing videos on Joga and I noticed a gruesome video - this one an accident - showing a very similar injury to the one that Cisse sustained. It seems to further back up my contention that Cisse's leg first broke when Zhi purposefully kicked him in the back of the leg.
UPDATE: A quick note to Rangers, who were rumoured to have had an interest in the crooked one:
I urge you to consider dropping your support for Zheng Zhi of China. The video proves that he intentionally kicked Cisse in the back of the leg, resulting in Cisse's leg snapping even *before* Cisse tried to plant it.
This could have been only a minor foul gone horribly wrong, but the more we learn about Zhi, the more we begin to understand his true nature as a footballer. He and his coach defended his actions by saying, essentially, 'shit happens'. This is a truly classless response to a horrific injury that occurred upon Zhi's illegal challenge.
Look into Zhi's history and you will see one of the reason's he's got room to move - he hacks at will until someone is injured. He's a little God in his league, but as soon as he moves to real competition he'll no longer have the protection of league officials who condone classless brutality on the pitch.
Even the Premiereship wouldn't have his hacking. His numerous cards and running afoul of officials - spitting on umpire, which saw Zhi receive a 6-month suspension - should not be tolerated by any club, nevermind the storied Rangers.
Don't devalue your brand by bringing in this lout.