World Cup 2006 News
Materazzi admits insulting Zidane, FIFA opens probe (Roundup)
By Nicholas Rigillo Jul 13, 2006, 18:41 GMT
Rome - Football world governing body FIFA on Thursday opened an investigation into the conduct of Marco Materazzi after the Italian defender admitted provoking Frenchman Zinedine Zidane into reacting during the World Cup final.
Zidane was famously sent off in Sunday's match between Italy and France when he head-butted Materazzi in the chest. Zidane told French television Wednesday he was insulted three times by the opponent and lost his temper.
Zidane did not repeat what Materazzi had said to him, but hinted it had to do with his sister and his mother.
'These were very personal things,' Zidane said. 'They had to do with my mother, my sister. He said words that were very hard, and he repeated them several times. You listen once, and you try to go away. That's what I did. You hear it a second time, and then a third time.'
In an interview given to Italian daily Corriere della Sera moments before Zidane's appearance on French television, Materazzi admitted insulting Zidane's sister, but not his mother.
Asked what had sparked Zidane's reaction in Berlin, Materazzi said: 'I made no references to religion, politics or racism.'
Pressed on whether he had insulted Zidane's mother and sister, as widely reported, he said: 'I exclude any insults to (his) mother. I lost my own mother when I was 15 years old. I would never insult anyone by having a go at their mother.'
Materazzi also claimed Zidane was the first to start the argument on the pitch and insisted he could have done nothing to avoid being head-butted in the chest.
'How many people would have expected a Zidane head butt? I thought he wanted to confront me face-to-face, not hit me,' he said.
The interviews have prompted FIFA to open an investigation into the behaviour of both players, with a verdict expected by July 20.
'FIFA will investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident in detail,' FIFA said in a statement Thursday.
The football world governing body had earlier made clear that the decision to show the French captain a red card in the Berlin final had not come from the video evidence beamed to millions of viewers around the world but from the direct observations of the fourth official.
Any punishment inflicted by FIFA on Zidane would be purely symbolic as the 34-year-old retired from football after the World Cup final, which Italy won in a penalty shoot-out.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur