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Zidane and Materazzi Fined and Banned
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Former France captain Zinedine Zidane and Italy defender Marco Materazzi were both fined and banned by FIFA on Thursday after the head-butting incident that marred the World Cup final.

Zidane, who has retired as a player, was fined 7,500 Swiss francs ($6,014) and handed a three-match ban by FIFA's five-man disciplinary committee following his red card for head-butting Materazzi in Berlin on July 9.

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.

The Italian defender, who admitted insulting Zidane, provoking the Frenchman's head-butt, was handed a two-match ban and fined 5,000 Swiss francs ($4,010). He attended a hearing last Friday, but his sentence has been fiercely criticized in Italy.

The bans apply to international competitive matches, even though it is a symbolic ban for Zidane who has confirmed he has no intention of reversing his decision to retire.

Materazzi will miss Italy's opening two Euro 2008 qualifiers against Lithuania on September 2 and, ironically, France on September 6.


"In their statements, both players stressed that Materazzi's comments had been defamatory but not of a racist nature," a FIFA statement said.

"During the course of their hearings both players also apologised to FIFA for their inappropriate behaviour and expressed their regret at the incident."

FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren told around 50 reporters at FIFA's headquarters: "Both players have a congruent separate account of what was said. The words will remain private, but they were of an insulting nature, not a racist nature."

Paolo Maldini, captain of AC Milan and former captain of Italy's national team said FIFA's ruling was scandalous.

"It's scandalous to suspend a player for having said something. It's the first time it's been done and it's only because Materazzi is Italian and because they wanted to justify the action of a great champion (Zidane) but who was in the wrong."

Maurizio Lupi, a deputy of Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, also condemned the ruling.

"It's a disgraceful sentence that shows yet again how Italy's football federation carries no weight at FIFA."

French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, on the other hand, said he was satisfied with the verdict.

"It is intelligent, measured and reasonable. It shows knowledge of the world of football...The provoker of the incident has been punished," he told a news conference.

"It's a penalty that hits the one who, in my opinion was responsible. Zidane wasn't the guilty one. You have to keep control but the responsible one is the one who provokes, the one who decides to destabilise a player by means other than sporting means."


Zidane head-butted Materazzi in the chest in the 110th minute of the final and was sent off by Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo.

There was considerable debate immediately after the incident whether the referee had seen it or not, or whether Elizondo only acted after the fourth official had seen the incident on a TV replay which is against FIFA's regulations.

Several minutes elapsed before Elizondo dealt with the matter and he did so only after Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon drew the assistant referee's attention to what had happened.

FIFA said the incident had been "directly observed" by the fourth official Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain) from his position at the side of the pitch without the use of a monitor.

In their statement FIFA said that Cantalejo informed the referee and his assistants through the communications system.

(Reuters July 21, 2006)

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