ROME (Reuters) – Italy defender Marco Materazzi on Monday denied a report that he had called Zinedine Zidane a “dirty terrorist” seconds before the French captain head-butted him in Sunday’s World Cup final.
“It is absolutely not true, I did not call him a terrorist. I’m ignorant. I don’t even know what the word means,” the Italian news agency Ansa quoted Materazzi as saying after the Italian team returned to Rome.
“The whole world saw what happened on live TV,” he added.
The Paris-based anti-racism group SOS Racism had earlier quoted well informed sources as saying Materazzi had apparently used the phrase.
“According to several very well informed sources from the world of football, it would seem that the Italian player Marco Materazzi called Zinedine Zidane a ‘dirty terrorist’,” SOS Racism said in a statement.
Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants, was shown a red card after the incident and Italy went on to win on penalties after the match was tied 1-1 following extra time.
SOS Racism called for an inquiry and said world soccer’s governing body FIFA had recently toughened sanctions against racism.
“It’s for this reason that SOS Racism asks in a determined fashion for FIFA to shed light on this altercation and that sanctions laid out in the official rules be applied should this be the case,” SOS Racism said.
French television reported that Zidane would talk about the incident “in the coming days.”