Monday, July 10, 2006


PARIS (Reuters) - Zinedine Zidane said on Wednesday he was provoked into head-butting defender Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final because the Italian insulted his mother and his sister.
In an interview with French television channel Canal Plus Zidane also apologised to children and fans but did not regret the attack that led to his sending off.
"He (Materazzi) pulled my shirt several times and I told him that we could swap shirts at the end of the game if he wanted to," Zidane said in the live interview.
"He, then, pronounced very tough words about my mother and my sister. I tried not to listen to him but he kept repeating them," Zidane said.
"I knew it was my last game and I knew that there were only 10 minutes to play but things happened very swiftly," he said.
"I am a man before anything else," he added.
Zidane, widely regarded as the greatest player of his generation and playing the last game of his career, was shown a red card, leaving his team mates finish the match without him.
Zidane denied Materazzi called him an Islamic "terrorist," as was reported by a Paris-based anti-racism group.
Zidane is of Algerian origin. His parents were born in the village of Aguemone in the Kabylie region.
FIFA decided on Tuesday to open a disciplinary investigation into the incident and Sepp Blatter, head of soccer's ruling body, hinted that Zidane could be stripped of the tournament's best player award.

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