France coach Raymond Domenech admitted Zinedine Zidane's moment of madness cost Les Bleus the World Cup.
Zidane was sent off 20 minutes into extra-time for head-butting Marco Materazzi in the chest, and after the match ended 1-1 Italy went on to win the penalty shoot-out 5-3, with David Trezeguet missing the crucial kick.
The France captain had given his side the lead from the penalty spot in the seventh minute after Materazzi had tripped Florent Malouda, but the Italy defender headed an equaliser 12 minutes later.
However, Domenech was furious with Materazzi - and he claimed referee Horacio Elizondo only produced the red card after the fourth official had seen a video replay.
He said: 'The sending off of Zidane changed the match, that was the killing moment of the game.
'I'm not saying I'm excusing it but I can understand. It was too bad, a totally useless gesture. We regret it and he also regrets it.
'We had been playing better than Italy in extra-time and you could see they were just waiting for penalties.
'It was a pity that we were without Zidane for the last 10 minutes, it affected our balance and perhaps it should not have happened.'
Domenech added: 'The referee was not on our side. I don't know what Materazzi told Zidane - all I know was the man of the match was not Andrea Pirlo but Materazzi, he scored the equaliser and he had Zidane sent off.
'It's sad, it's a pity. He [Materazzi) really put on a great show when he fell down - we know how these things work.'
Domenech said that Zidane regretted what had happened but refused to say if he had apologised.
The France coach added: 'I don't mention what happens inside the group, I will not speak on behalf of the players.
'Of course it's sad having a great player like Zidane being sent off.
'Something must have happened but I don't know what. I don't think he decided out of the blue to [head-butt] him, that he wanted to leave the pitch, something must have happened.'
Domenech also criticised referee Elizondo, the same official who sent off Wayne Rooney.
He claimed: 'The referee saw nothing, the assistant referee saw nothing and then we have the fourth official saying to the referee what happened. We have video replays in football and then the fourth official tips off the referee.'
Domenech also refused to speculate on his future.
He added: 'I'll think about that in two or three days' time when I've had a rest and start to forget this very big disappointment.
'We have the meeting of the French federation on Tuesday and the president will say what has been decided, but this is not important now, I'm not worried about that now, I'm disappointed. 'It's not enough for me that we made the final - I thought we should have won.
'We had Patrick Vieira who was injured, that was an important element, and then the sending off reduced us to 10 men. We had the match very much under control at that point so that was indeed sad.'
He also admitted France had no exact plan in place for the shoot-out.
Domenech said: 'Zidane is the first one to shoot normally but him not being there shouldn't change it that much. We have no particular plan when it comes to penalties, it depends who is on the pitch and who feels that they want to take them.'
France's Arsenal striker Thierry Henry said: 'We are sad - everyone is really sad. We were so close to winning a second World Cup but we didn't do it. That's just the way it is.'