Materazzi faces Fifa

2006-07-14 13:03
<b>Italian soccer player Marco Materazzi arrives at the Fifa headquarters. (Walter Bieri, AP) </b>

Italian soccer player Marco Materazzi arrives at the Fifa headquarters. (Walter Bieri, AP)

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Zurich, Switzerland - Marco Materazzi appeared before Fifa's disciplinary committee on Friday to answer questions about what he did to provoke Zinedine Zidane to head-butt him during Italy's World Cup final victory over France.

The Italian defender met with officials at Fifa's headquarters in Zurich on Friday morning, Fifa spokesperson Nicolas Maingot said.

Maingot refused to provide any details of the meeting, which came one day after world soccer's governing body said it would open disciplinary proceedings against Materazzi.

Materazzi is being investigated based on statements by Zidane, who was sent off for ramming his head into the defender's chest in extra time of Sunday's final in Berlin.

Zidane said on French television on Wednesday that Materazzi insulted his mother and sister. Materazzi has admitted insulting Zidane, but denied verbally attacking Zidane's mother.

Materazzi's agent Claudio Vigorelli said Fifa should only consider Zidane's reaction.

"His reaction was absolutely out of order, especially in a big game like the final, because it was his last game as a football player," Materazzi told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Vigorelli said any punishment toward Materazzi could create a difficult precedent, citing the case of Italy forward Francesco Totti, who was banned for three games for spitting at Denmark's Christian Poulsen during the 2004 European Championship.

"Totti was banned for four games, which was reduced to three, and nothing happened to Poulsen - this is absolutely a similar case," Vigorelli said.

"If they want to attack a player for what he keeps saying on the pitch, they will be very busy in the future because it's quite normal that players shout to each other in a game - especially when it's such a stressful game."

Zidane is scheduled to attend a Fifa hearing next Thursday. A decision is expected later that day.

Fifa has declined to comment on possible punishments for either individuals or teams.

Zidane has retired, but could be stripped of his award as the best player of the World Cup. Materazzi, however, could face a ban and fine. - AP

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