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Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Remark about sister set off Zidane at World Cup

Italy defender Marco Materazzi has revealed the content of the verbal exchange he had with Zinedine Zidane which led to the infamous head butt that sent the French star off in July's World Cup final.

Materazzi said it was a mention of Zidane's sister which prompted the head butt from the French midfielder that left France down to 10 men before its defeat on penalty kicks.

"I did not provoke him, I responded verbally to a provocation," Materazzi told the daily Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday.

"We both spoke and I wasn't the first. I held his shirt but don't you think it is a provocation to say that 'if you want my shirt I will give it you afterwards'?

"I replied to Zidane that I would prefer his sister, that is true. I brought up his sister and that wasn't a nice thing, that is true," said Materazzi.

"Thankfully there are tens of footballers who could confirm that much worse things are said on the field," added the Inter Milan defender.

France hosts Italy in a European Championship qualifier on Wednesday but neither Zidane nor Materazzi will play.

Zidane, who has retired as a player, was fined $6,014 and handed a three-match ban by FIFA's five-man disciplinary committee following the July 9 final.

As he is no longer a player, he offered to undertake three days of community service on FIFA's behalf as part of their humanitarian activities, which the committee accepted.

Materazzi was handed a two-match ban and fined $4,010. His sentence was fiercely criticized in Italy.

The Italy defender said that while he had told FIFA he was willing to make a gesture of reconciliation with Zidane, he was not going to apologize.

"He has not apologized to me and I certainly don't have to apologize to him. If anything, I owe apologies to his sister, although I swear, before all this mess I didn't even know Zidane had a sister," he said.

Materazzi said that he thought the two could put the incident behind them.

"If peace can be made after terrible wars can Zidane and I not make peace? A peace between men, without much publicity, certainly yes.

"The door of my house will always be open to him and if he wants, Zidane knows how to find out my address," said Materazzi.




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