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Prem Forecaster: The relegation race

Premier League
By ESPN Staff

Materazzi wins apology over Zidane heatbutt claim

Italy defender Marco Materazzi today accepted a public apology over a claim that he had used vile racist abuse to goad former France captain Zinedine Zidane into headbutting him during the 2006 World Cup final.

The Inter Milan centre-back, who scored Italy's equaliser and one of the crucial match-winning penalties in the shoot-out, was at London's High Court for the settlement of his libel action against Express Newspapers, over articles in the Daily Star.

His counsel, Jane Phillips, said the newspaper accepted that the allegations were 'wholly untrue' and apologised for the distress and embarrassment caused.

Outside court, 34-year-old Materazzi 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.'

His solicitor, Steven Heffer, said the newspaper would also be paying Materazzi substantial damages and his legal costs.

Ms Phillips told Mr Justice Eady that the Daily Star published articles under the headlines 'What Made ZZ Blow his Top - 'Your Mum's a Terrorist Whore'; Zid's Vicious over Whore Slur on Mum - The Cruel Taunt that Made Legend Lose It; Gallas Out to Batter Matta - French Star: I'll Smash his Face; Henry: I don't Blame Zizou and Zidane's Nutting Butt the Best - He Beats 'Cheat' Ron as the No. 1 Bad Boy.

They were accompanied among other photographs by a front-page photo of Materazzi having been headbutted by Zidane, captioned with a speech bubble coming out of Materazzi's mouth stating 'Your Mum's a Terrorist Whore'.

Kate Wilson, counsel for Express Newspapers, said: 'The defendant accepts that there is no question of the claimant having said anything of a racist nature to Zidane whatsoever, such as to goad Zidane into viciously headbutting him, and 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.'