Materazzi admits to sister slur

2006-07-13 11:48

Rome - Italian defender Marco Materazzi has admitted insulting Zinedine Zidane's sister, but not his mother, moments before being head-butted by the Frenchman in Sunday's World Cup final.

In an interview published on Thursday by Corriere della Sera, Italy's leading daily, Materazzi also said Zidane fully deserved to receive Fifa's Golden Ball award as the best player of the tournament.

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."

Speaking on French television on Wednesday, 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."

Materazzi claims Zidane was the first to start the argument on the pitch and insists 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 Italy defender also praised Zidane and said he should still be rewarded with Fifa's Golden Ball.

"I really appreciate Zidane, in fact I worship him for what he has been able to do on the pitch. He deserves (the Fifa award), he shouldn't be judged over a single episode," Materazzi said.

Fifa has decided to launch an official probe into the incident, which took place in the 110th minute of Sunday's final in Berlin.

The football world governing body has made clear that the decision to show the French captain a red card 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 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.

Sapa

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