The tension in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin was noticeable in the final of the 2006 World Cup played in Germany. French and Italians met to define the champion of the World Cup event. The Gauls beat Portugal in the semi-finals, while the ‘Azzurra’ edged out the hosts to confirm their places in the final instance.
Precisely the two scorers of the game had a brawl in extra time. Zinedine Zidane opened the account over the first seven minutes from the penalty spot, while Marco Materazzi equalized after 18 minutes of the first half. With parity at one, they went to extra time where they kept that tie and went to the penalty shootout to define the champion.
110 minutes were running when Marco Materazzi had a conversation with Zinedine Zidane, and the Frenchman responded with a header to the Italian defender’s chest. Marco collapsed and Horacio Elizondo, the match’s central referee, did not hesitate to expel the Real Madrid player at the time.
Zinedine Zidane said goodbye to professionalism with an expulsion. 16 years later, ‘Zizou’ revealed the reason for his reaction and commented that it all started because of the defender’s provocations. In dialogue with the French newspaper L’Équipe, Zidane said, ‘that day, my mother was very tired. I was with my sister on the phone several times during the day. I know my mother is not well, but she is not too serious either. But she is still a concern. I’m still focused. But everything is things that arise. The pressure, this and that. He (Materazzi) didn’t tell me about my mother.’
Apparently it all started with a series of insults, but not by Zinedine’s mother, but by another character in the story. ‘He has often said that he did not insult my mother. It’s true. But he did insult my sister, who was with my mother at the time,’ explained Zinedine Zidane.
He went on to say that insults are normal on the court, but that Marco Materazzi crossed the line, ‘he provoked something by talking about my sister Lila. It was only a second and it was gone… but then you have to accept it. I’m not proud of it, but it’s part of my career. At that time, it was more fragile. It’s sometimes in these moments when you can do something that isn’t right… that’s how it ends. It’s hard. But it’s my career. The story of my life. Like my two goals in the 1998 final. That’s why I say the French team is not finished. Somehow I don’t want to end like this. It has not finished’.
For his part, Marco Materazzi maintained that he repented, ‘I said some stupid words to Zidane that could not provoke such a reaction. In any camp in Rome, Naples, Milan or Paris, you hear much worse things. I spoke of his sister, but not of his mother as I have read in some newspapers. My mother died when I was 15, so I would never have sunk so low as to insult her mother.’