Asked what exactly Materazzi had said, Zidane would only offer that it was “very personal and concerned his mother and his sister”.
“You hear those things once and you try to walk away. That’s what I wanted to do because I am retiring. You hear it a second time and then a third time …”
You have 10 minutes left, a potential penalty shootout, and one of the best players in the world on the verge of retiring, and in a perfect situation to give France their second World Cup. Materazzi holds onto Zidane. They go back and forth a bit. You can see Zidane tugging at his shirt which goes nicely with the ‘you can have my shirt after the match’ remark to Materazzi. Zidane then runs past Materazzi, incident over. But you can see Materazzi keeps jawing away.Zidane turns around, in a visible reaction to something that Materazzi just said, and then he take a couple of steps forward and voila, the headbutt that changed this World Cup. Some commentators have said what Zizou did was premeditated assault. Nope. Not even close.
I think when the FIFA investigation is over, Materazzi will have a lot of explaining to do. Zidane does have a history of losing his cool and as pointed out most famously in 1998 WC in the group matches when he stepped on a supine Saudi Arabian player. But this was his last match in a glittering career with every opportunity for a French victory. Why would he throw it away? And as he says:
“Do you imagine that in a World Cup final like that with just 10 minutes to go to the end of my career, I am going to do something like that because it gives me pleasure?”
But somethings are more precious than a World Cup. Not too many. Your heritage, your family, and your raison d’etre. And I think we can safely say, that Zizou is a man with a great deal of pride about his ethnicity.
“I can’t say I have any regrets about what I did because that would be like admitting that he had every reason to say what he said.” said Zidane.
The Italians got the World Cup. But they lost a great deal in the process. Materazzi will not be one of the players affected by relegation because he plays for Inter Milan but he will come up at some point of time against Real Madrid, Villareal, and Bordeaux in the European Championships. I am sure the fans there have long memories.
Zidane did a classy act by focusing on his actions and asking forgiveness from the millions of kids who watch and worship him, including our friends Pedro and Jose, the kids who Adidas made famous. Marco Materazzi is not going to make their teams.
FIFA in its Article 55 of the non-discriminatory policy states in its the new provision in par. 4 stipulates that if any player, official or spectator behaving in a discriminatory or contemptuous manner can be attributed to a certain team, three points will automatically be deducted from that team for the first offence. In the case of a second offence, six points will be deducted, and after a further offence, the team will be relegated. In the case of matches played without points being awarded, the team in question will be disqualified.
If Materazzi is found gulity he will no doubt be suspended from playing in any league. What remains unclear is whether the whole Italian team could be sanctioned and stripped of their World Cup victory. I would imagine if the investigation takes a turn for the worse, the Italian Football Federation will start making statements expressing contrition and effectively try and take themselves out of the picture, indicating that it is the act of an individual racist player.