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By ESPN Staff

Father stands by Materazzi

The father of Italy hero Marco Materazzi has defended his son amid claims the defender provoked French midfielder Zinedine Zidane into head-butting him.

Zidane was sent off, and Italy won the World Cup on penalties, with Materazzi converting one of the Azzurri's five spot-kicks.

Television images showed Internazionale defender Materazzi exchanging words before Zidane took a few steps and head-butted Materazzi in the chest.

'I spoke to my son briefly after the game,' said Giuseppe Materazzi to the Italian media.

'Marco had told me he had been provoked. It's as though they have something against him each time.

'In the past two years, Marco has only been on the receiving end and the injuries he has sustained are proof of this.

'I don't want to be controversial, but there are things that have to be said instead of just pointing the finger and putting a black mark against someone.'