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Materazzi gives evidence to FIFA

Zinedine Zidane is shown the red card by referee Horacio Elizondo after head butting Materazzi.


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ZURICH, Switzerland (CNN) -- Italy defender Marco Materazzi traveled to Zurich on Friday to give evidence to FIFA in the investigation into Zinedine Zidane's headbutting dismissal in the World Cup final.

He attended a hastily rearranged hearing of the disciplinary committee to give his version of the events that led to Zidane assaulting him.

The meeting was convened so that Materazzi would not have to interrupt a holiday next week.

FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Materazzi on Thursday when both players were formally ordered to submit their version of events.

It was originally planned to have a face-to-face meeting between the pair in front of disciplinary chiefs on July 20.

But to accommodate Materazzi's holiday plans he was allowed to prepare his case overnight before traveling to Switzerland on Friday.

Materazzi left the hearing without speaking to a large crowd of journalists and photographers.

FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said they would stick to the original date of July 20 to announce the committee's findings.

FIFA said on Thursday that it had taken the decision to investigate Materazzi following claims made by French captain Zidane.

Zidane told French TV on Wednesday that Materazzi had provoked him by continually insulting his mother and his sister.

The French player, who has now retired, is already under investigation by FIFA and its chief Sepp Blatter hinted that Zidane could be stripped of the tournament's best player award.

The incident, which came near the end of extra-time in the final that Italy won 5-3 in a penalty shootout, has cast a shadow over the World Cup finals.

"The proceedings were initiated in the light of initial statements from French player Zinedine Zidane who ... has since indicated in an interview that his actions came in response to repeated provocation," FIFA said in its statement. on Thursday.

Zidane has the right to make a written statement, which must be submitted by next Tuesday.

In the interview with television channel Canal Plus, national hero Zidane apologized to children and fans but did not regret the attack that led to his sending off.

"He (Materazzi) pronounced very tough words about my mother and my sister. I tried not to listen to him but he kept repeating them," Zidane said.

"I knew it was my last game and I knew that there were only 10 minutes to play but things happened very swiftly," he said.

"I am a man before anything else," he added.

Materazzi denial

Materazzi denied insulting the France captain's mother.

In an interview given to Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday, Materazzi said Zidane was his footballing hero.

"I said nothing to him about race, religion or politics. I did not talk about his mother either," the defender was quoted as saying.

"I lost my mother when I was 15 and it still upsets me to talk about it. Of course I didn't know that his mother was in hospital. I send her my best wishes."

The Italian defender, who scored the equalizing goal in the final, said the incident started after he pulled on Zidane's jersey.

"Zidane spoke to me, yelling, he looked at me with extreme arrogance, from top to bottom, saying, 'If you really want my jersey, I'll give it to you after (the match),'" Materazzi said.

"I responded with an insult, it's true," he added.

No hesitation

Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo, who was in charge of the final, said that he had had no hesitation in showing Zidane the red card.

Elizondo, speaking to local reporters after returning home from Germany, said he was not aware of what had provoked the incident.

"I didn't hear anything. If they did say anything surely that could be detected on video. Nonetheless that's no justification for the reaction by the player (Zidane)."

Elizondo, who was widely praised for his handling of the final, said:"One has to always be ready...and not be influenced."

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