Zinedine Zidane has apologised for his remarkable assault on Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final, saying tonight that he was provoked by insults about his mother and sister.
“I want to ask for forgiveness from all the children who watched that,” Zidane said in a French TV interview. “There was no excuse for it. I want to be open and honest about it.
“I do apologise but I don’t regret my behaviour because regretting it would mean he was right to say what he said.”
Zidane refused to specify exactly what Materazzi said that caused him to headbutt the Italian defender in the chest with 11 minutes of extra-time remaining – an act that led to his dismissal before France’s penalty shoot-out defeat.
All Zidane would say was that Materazzi repeatedly insulted him and his family, and that the Italian’s remarks were “very personal and concerned my mother and sister. I tried not to listen to him but he kept repeating them.
“I am a man and some words are harder to hear than actions. I would have rather been knocked down than hear that.”
The now retired France No10 made no suggestion that Materazzi had called him a “terrorist”.
Materazzi himself, who scored the equaliser for Italy on Sunday, made a statement of his own this evening. “I didn’t mention anything about religion, politics or racism,” he said.
“I didn’t insult his mother. I lost my mother when I was 15 years old and still get emotional when I talk about it. Naturally, I didn’t know that his mother was in hospital but I wish her all the best. Zidane is my hero and I have always admired him a lot.”
In the spirit of understanding, brotherhood and sportsmanship, I would like to publicy apologize to firstname.lastname@example.org for calling he or she “numbnuts.”
“Shit for brains” would’ve more than sufficed.