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Barca hampered by archaic FIFA

Barcelona 20 hours ago
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Bayern MunichBayern Munich
VfL WolfsburgVfL Wolfsburg
6:30 PM GMT
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 20, 2006

Zidane banned and fined for Materazzi headbutt

ZURICH, July 20 (Reuters) - Former France captain Zinedine Zidane and Italy defender Marco Materazzi were both fined and banned by FIFA on Thursday after the head-butting incident that marred the World Cup final on July 9.

Zidane, who has retired as a player, was fined £3260 and handed a three-match ban by FIFA's five-man disciplinary committee following his red card for head-butting Materazzi.

As he is no longer a player, he offered to undertake three days of community service on FIFA's behalf which the committee accepted.

The Italian defender, who admitted insulting Zidane, provoking the Frenchman's head-butt, was handed a two-match ban and fined £2170. He attended a hearing last Friday.

The bans apply to international competitive matches, even though it is a symbolic ban for Zidane who has confirmed he has no intention of reversing his decision to quit the game.

Materazzi will miss Italy's opening two Euro 2008 qualifiers against Lithuania on September 2 and, ironically, France on September 6.

FIFA said in a statement: 'Zinedine Zidane has agreed to do community service work with children and youngsters.

'As Zidane has now retired from international football, the committee took note of Zidane's pledge to do three days of community service work with children and youngsters as part of FIFA's humanitarian activities.

'In their statements, both players stressed that Materazzi's comments had been defamatory but not of a racist nature.

'During the course of their hearings both players also apologised to FIFA for their inappropriate behaviour and expressed their regret at the incident.'

FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren told around 50 reporters at FIFA's headquarters: 'Both players have a congruent separate account of what was said. The words will remain private, but they were of an insulting nature, not a racist nature.'

However Paolo Maldini, captain of AC Milan and former captain of Italy's national team said FIFA's ruling was scandalous.

'It's scandalous to suspend a player for having said something. It's the first time it's been done and it's only because Materazzi is Italian and because they wanted to justify the action of a great champion (Zidane) but who was in the wrong.'

Maurizio Lupi, a deputy of Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party also condemmed the ruling.

'It's a disgraceful sentence that shows yet again how Italy's football federation carries no weight at FIFA.'

Zidane head-butted Materazzi in the chest in the 110th minute of the July 9 final in Berlin and was sent off by Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo.

There was considerable debate immediately after the incident whether the referee had seen it or not, or whether the referee only acted after the fourth official had seen the incident on a TV replay which is against FIFA's regulations.

Several minutes elapsed before Elizondo dealt with the matter and he did so only after Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon drew the assistant referee's attention to what had happened.

In a statement, FIFA said the incident had been 'directly observed' by the fourth official Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain) from his position at the side of the pitch without the use of a monitor.

In their statement FIFA said that Cantalejo informed the referee and his assistants through the communications system.

Both match officials were also invited to attend the meeting. According to FIFA's regulations, the fourth official must inform the referee if any acts of violent conduct are committed out of sight of the referee and his assistants.