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FIFA bans Zidane for head butt

Zidane leaves FIFA headquarters after his disciplinary hearing.

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SEPP BLATTER REVEALED

ZURICH, Switzerland -- Zinedine Zidane, the former France captain, and Italy defender Marco Materazzi have been fined and banned by FIFA for a head-butting incident during the World Cup final on July 9.

Zidane, who has retired as a player, was fined 7,500 Swiss francs ($6,014) and handed a three-match ban following a private hearing with FIFA officials Thursday in Zurich.

As he is no longer a player, Zidane has agreed to undertake three days of community service on FIFA's behalf instead.

Materazzi, who admitted insulting Zidane, provoking the Frenchman's head-butt, was handed a two-match ban and fined 5,000 Swiss francs ($4,010). 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.

"Zinedine Zidane has also agreed to do community service work with children and youngsters," FIFA said in a statement.

"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 apologized to FIFA for their inappropriate behavior and expressed their regret at the incident."

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

There was considerable debate immediately after the incident about whether the referee had seen it or not.

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 its statement, FIFA said the referee had "directly observed" the incident from his position "without the use of a monitor by the fourth official, Luis Medina Cantalejo."

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