Wed, Jul 12, 2006 - Page 19 News List

World Cup: Materazzi admits to insulting Zizou

SAY WHAT?The Italian defender finally admitted that he verbally abused the France captain, but refused to reveal exactly what caused Zidane to head-butt him

AFP , ROME

French midfielder Zinedine Zidane, left, looks on after head-butting Italian defender Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Italian defender Marco Materazzi has for the first time acknowledged that he "insulted" French player Zinedine Zidane because he was super arrogant in the World Cup final, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported yesterday.

Zidane, 34, floored Materazzi with a head butt to the chest in the second half of extra-time in Sunday's final and was sent off, missing a penalty shootout in which he would have been expected to take one of France's spot-kicks.

"I held his shirt .. for only a few seconds, he turned toward me and scoffed at me, looking at me with super arrogance, up and down: `if you really want my shirt, you can have it later.' [Zidane said] It's true, I shot back with an insult," the paper quoted Materazzi as saying.

Asked whether he had insulted Zidane's sister or mother, Materazzi said, it was an "insult of the kind you will hear dozens of times and that just slips out on the ground."

"I certainly didn't call him a terrorist; I am ignorant, I don't even know what an Islamic terrorist is; my only terrorist is her," he said pointing to his 10-month-old daughter who was sleeping next to him on the plane that took the Italian team back to Italy.

"I certainly did not mention Zidane's mother; for me a mother is sacred," he said.

In recalling the incident in Berlin's Olympic Stadium, the newspaper Corriere della Sera said that Materazzi lost his mother when he was 14 and that he would certainly not have insulted Zidane's.

The French player's agent had said on Monday that Zidane's World Cup final assault on Materazzi was provoked by a "very serious" comment made by the Italian defender.

The former Real Madrid star's moment of madness in his last match before retiring may have been provoked by Materazzi calling his sister a prostitute, according to a report on Brazilian television channel Globo.

Fantastico, a program on Globo, employed lip-reading experts who said footage of the incident showed the Italian twice insulted Zidane's sister.

The program claimed Materazzi made the same comment twice before then using a "coarse word" at the French player.

Zidane has not given his account of the incident but there have been reports Materazzi had called him a "terrorist" or suggested he did not have the right to play for France -- both insults based on French-born Zidane's Algerian heritage.

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