Zidane arrives at FIFA for disciplinary hearing

July 20, 2006
By Mark Ledsom

Zinedine Zidane arrived at FIFA headquarters in Zurich today to give his version of the incident which marred his last appearance in a competitive match in the 2006 World Cup final.

Zidane's head-butt on Italy's Marco Materazzi marred the final in Berlin with the Frenchman later accusing the Italian of provoking him with insults before Italy went on to win 5-3 on penalties.

Internazionale defender Materazzi gave his version of events last Friday

About a hundred fans and media representatives were there to greet the arrival of the now retired footballer at FIFA's new headquarters near Zurich zoo.

Signs proclaiming `Zidane: we love you' showed the hero of France's 1998 World Cup win is not being blamed for the defeat at the hands of the Azzurri.

'He was the best player of the World Cup for me,' explained Beatrice from Paris. 'What he did, he did because he was provoked.

'What Materazzi said must have been really bad and I hope he gets punished for it.'

Jean Robin, also from Paris, set up a petition on the internet three days ago to accumulate signatures calling for the Italian international's playing career to be brought to an end.

He believes banning Materazzi for life would 'set an example that you cannot insult people like that on the football field.

'The purpose of this (petition) is to make FIFA understand this sort of thing should not happen,' he said. 'All insults should be banned from the stadium.'

In just three days, Robin has received almost 4,000 signatures.

The petition, which was on www.petitiononline.com, reads `Materazzi is a violent and provocative player who insulted Zidane during the 2006 World Cup and deserves to be kicked out of football'.

Robin does not believe Zidane should be further punished even though any ban would be nominal as the player has retired.

'To miss out on the final 10 minutes of the last game in his career is a huge sanction in itself,' he added.