Marco Materazzi is just another player that seems to be determined that the game of soccer should take a dive or become the game of buttheads. For an example you should look no further than Paolo Di Canio and the Irreducibli at Lazio that worship him.
But the rot starts from the top. From coaches like Luis Aragones and Oleg Blokhin who make openly racist statements. To the far right politicos like Jean Marie Le Pen who complained that it was hard to see what was so "French" about the 1998 World Cup team. Some politicians in Italy were not merely content with winning the World Cup, as we find out with Roberto Calderoli, the former minister of reform and a member of the right wing National Alliance Party, who said that Italy had vanquished a French team made up of, "Negroes, Communists, and Muslims." The Jewish quarter in Rome was desecrated by Swastikas during post game festivities.
Individual soccer federations are the worst, preferring to turn a blind eye to the problem or at most issuing a piffling fine to the soccer player that just takes away what they earn in an hour. The player learns nothing from these slap on the wrist punitive measures. FIFA also has been notoriously lax about enforcing the non-discriminatory policies.
Hmmm. Marco Materazzi is a racist goon who formerly played for Everton, Paolo Di Canio is a racist goon, who had a stint with West Ham. What is with these players who play for the EPL and come back to Italia? Maybe they can't take the fish and chips or the English weather?
Dave Zirin has a nice article on the ugly side of soccer. Hat tip to Alamgir for drawing attention to this article.