Materazzi in damages victory

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The Independent Football

The Italian World Cup-winning defender Marco Materazzi won a formal public apology from the Daily Star newspaper yesterday over its claim that he racially abused Zinedine Zidane during the 2006 World Cup final, when the Frenchman headbutted him in the chest and was sent off.

Italy won the final on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time in which Materazzi scored their equaliser. The Internazionale central defender will receive "substantial damages and his legal costs" from the paper.

The player's counsel Jane Phillips told a hearing: "In [post-match] articles the defendant [the Daily Star] stated, quite wrongly, that the claimant had used vile racist abuse during the World Cup final, including calling the mother of his opponent, Zinedine Zidane, a 'terrorist whore', thus goading Zidane into losing his temper and causing Zidane to head-butt the Italian.

"The defendant accepts these allegations are wholly untrue and that there is no question of the claimant having said anything of a racist nature to Zidane."

Kate Wilson, for Express Newspapers, said: "The defendant would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the claimant for any distress and embarrassment which he has suffered as a result of the publication of these articles."

Materazzi, present to hear the apology, said: "I really appreciate the apology published in the Daily Star. The truth is now coming out – finally. I am looking forward to a quick and positive conclusion to my claims against the other newspapers who published lies about me. Only then will I be truly satisfied."

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