Zidane, Materazzi penalized for head-butt incident

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/z/zinedinezidane.jpg' class='caption'> Zinedine Zidane was banned by FIFA for three games for head-butting Italy defender Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Zinedine Zidane was banned by FIFA for three games for head-butting Italy defender Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final. Materazzi was suspended for two matches. World soccer's governing body also fined Zidane 7,500 Swiss francs ($ 6,000) and Materazzi 5,000 francs ($ 4,000) after a disciplinary committee heard the former France captain's account of what led to the incident. Because Zidane has retired and the ban is only academic, he agreed to do three days of community service with children as part of FIFA's humanitarian projects. Zidane has said he attacked Materazzi because he insulted his mother and sister, while Materazzi denied insulting Zidane's mother. "Both players stressed that Materazzi's comments had been defamatory but not of a racist nature," FIFA said in a statement. Both players apologized to FIFA for "their inappropriate behaviour and expressed their regret at the incident," the statement said. Zidane, who retired after his team's loss in the July 9 final in Berlin, was sent off for ramming Materazzi in the chest with his head. Zidane, who had already submitted written testimony, spent about 90 minutes in a private hearing Thursday morning before a five-man FIFA committee. Materazzi appeared before the FIFA panel last week. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has suggested Zidane, widely considered one of the greatest players of his generation, could be stripped of his Golden Ball award as the World Cup's best player. In a French television appearance last week, Zidane apologized to children who watched the match, but said he didn't regret his actions because he was provoked by repeated harsh insults about his family. Playing in extra time in his farewell game, Zidane and Materazzi exchanged words as the two walked up field. Zidane appeared to be distancing himself from the Italian, but then turned, lowered his bald head, and drove it into Materazzi's chest - knocking him to the ground. Zidane was sent off, and Italy went on to win its fourth World Cup. It won the game 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 extra-time draw. (AP)

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