On this day 13 years ago Italy beat France on penalties in the 2006 World Cup and won the game, claiming the title for the 4th time.
This edition of In One Shot column covers not that win and Fabio Cannavaro’s moment of glory, but the Zidane-Materazzi altercation.
The teams took the game to extra time, but France captain Zinedine Zidane did not play all of it. In the 110th minute he had to leave the pitch.
Zidane and Materazzi were both in the center of attention: in the 7th minute the former converted the penalty awarded to France following Materazzi’s mistake, but the Italian recovered and scored the equalizer.
That was still the score when Zidane headbutted him.
“I can recall that scene as I close my eyes. Not all fans noticed it. When they caught up with what was happening, Materazzi was already on the ground. It was quiet, and it was tense. The referee spotted nothing. Wiltord had the ball and I told him to continue the attack. We hoped Materazzi would get up, but Buffon drew the referee’s attention to him, and it was over,” said then France manager Raymond Domenech.
The 4th official, Luis Medina Cantalejo helped referee Horacio Elizondo to make the decision.
“I saw Materazzi lying on the ground 40 meters away, so I halted the game and asked the assistant referees what had happened. Both saw nothing, but Luis noticed Zidane headbutting the Italian. As I was approaching Zidane, I already knew I was going to draw out the red card,” told Elizondo, who is still known as the referee that sent Zidane off during the World Cup final.
Zidane himself isn’t fond of recalling that incident. He first mentioned it three days later, while speaking to Canal+.
Photo: getty images
“I asked Marco [Materazzi] to stop tugging my shirt. I said I could give it to him after the game. He responded by insulting my mother and sister. I tried to ignore him, but then it all unraveled very quickly. I had to be punished, but I did not want to end the World Cup and my career on that note,” he said.
Zidane also apologized to the millions of French fans, but not Materazzi. Nevertheless, the French captain was recognized by the best player of the World Cup by sports writers.
Later Materazzi wrote a book titled ‘What I Really Told Zidane’, which contained 250 versions of what he had said to Zidane, including three curses from the Harry Potter series: Avada Kedavra, Cruciatus and Imperius.
However, he eventually grew tired of answering the same question. “I don’t want to repeat the same thing at every interview, this is what I said: “I prefer the whore that is your sister.” I have already apologized publicly for my words,” said the player.
Both footballers were punished for the incident. FIFA held a meeting after the final and decided to fine Zidane CHF 7,500 and assign him to train children for 3 days. Materazzi was fined CHF 5,000 and disqualified for two games.