Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Zinedine Zidane Speaks [J. Mark English]

Christopher Joyce, National Public Radio --

Not since Garbo spoke have so many waited with so much anticipation the words of a celebrity.
Well, the suspense is officially broken. Zizou -- Zinedine Zidane, the French superstar soccer player who head-butted his way out of the World Cup final last weekend and into football history -- has revealed why he attacked an opposing Italian player.
"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 in a live interview on French television channel Canal Plus.
According to the Reuters news service, Zidane offered an apology to all children and to all fans for his behavior, but he said he did not regret it. "This was not something to do. I want to make it clear because it was watched by two billion people and by millions of kids," Zidane said. "I want to apologize to them, but I can't regret what I did because it would mean that he (Materazzi) was right to say what he said."
The news account says Zidane denied that Materazzi called him an Islamic "terrorist," a claim made after the game by a French anti-racism organization. Zidane is of Algerian origin.
The story's not over yet, though. Soccer authorities are opening an investigation of the incident. The soccer star could lose the best player award he won at the end of the tournament despite the red card ejection.