Robben Island to stage ZZ-Materazzi reunion?

September 11, 2006

BERLIN, Sept 11 (Reuters) - FIFA is considering South Africa's Robben Island as the stage for a reconciliation between Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi, the defender he headbutted during the World Cup final.

Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, said on Monday that plans were afoot for the two players to be reunited, and one possibility was using the site of the notorious prison, where former South African president Nelson Mandela was held.

'We are working on bringing together Materazzi and Zidane,' Blatter told reporters ahead of a meeting in Berlin to debrief national coaches after the recent World Cup.

'There are different possibilities and one of them is Robben Island in South Africa where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.'

The moment when France's Zidane headbutted Italian defender Materazzi during the final in July became a defining image of the 2006 World Cup.

Materazzi has since said that a reference he made to Zidane's sister prompted the attack from the French midfielder, which earned him a red card. Italy won the game 5-3 on penalties after Zidane was sent off.

World soccer's governing body FIFA fined Zidane 7,500 Swiss francs ($6,044) and Materazzi 5,000 Swiss francs.

Zidane said that since he had retired from the sport he would honour an additional three-match ban by undertaking community service.

Blatter backed a meeting of the two players, which Tokyo Sexwale, a former Robben Island inmate and now a member of the organising committee the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, suggested could take place at the prison site.

South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper reported that Sexwale was close to concluding a deal with Blatter in which Robben Island would be the venue for Zidane to perform his community service.

'This would bring to an end this story between Materazzi and Zidane,' Blatter said.

'It is a pity that the World Cup ended with a red card and also by taking kicks from the penalty spot, but we have no other solution.'