Materazzi gives Fifa account of World Cup final fracas

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The Independent Online

Marco Materazzi emerged in buoyant mood yesterday after giving a disciplinary hearing convened by Fifa, football's world governing body, his account of what happened before Zinedine Zidane head-butted him late on in extra time during last Sunday's World Cup final in Berlin.

The Italy defender, who was floored by a blow to the chest from the France captain, was accompanied at the meeting in Zurich by his lawyer and a senior official of the Italian Football Federation. After being questioned for 90 minutes about what he did or did not say to provoke Zidane's anger, Materazzi left smiling and giving the thumbs-up.

The former Everton player's agent, Claudio Vigorelli, described Materazzi as "optimistic" following the hearing, which had been brought forward so that his client would not have to interrupt a holiday that begins tomorrow. "Marco gave his version of what happened," he said. "He will not have to return to Zurich at a later stage."

Vigorelli even managed to joke, saying: "Marco will fly to the Maldives on Sunday. Do you know where Zidane is spending his vacation? It's just that the Maldives are small islands."

No decision as to what punishment, if any, either player might face will be announced until next Thursday. Zidane, who was making his farewell appearance before retiring, has been allowed to submit his evidence in writing to Fifa's disciplinary committee by Tuesday. Materazzi will receive a copy of the former Real Madrid midfielder's account and has the right to respond.

Zidane alleged in a television interview on Wednesday that Materazzi had made "serious" and "unacceptable" insults against his sick mother and sister. He declined to say exactly which "very hard words" were used by the Italian, who had first tugged at his shirt and nipple.

Materazzi had denied abusing Zidane's mother, saying: "The mother is sacred." However, prominent among the claims made by media companies' lip-readers was one that maintained he had told the Frenchman: "Everyone knows your mother is a whore."

Materazzi and Zidane scored in the final, which resulted in a 1-1 draw after extra time. Italy won the penalty shoot-out 5-3.

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