Marco Matterazzi, known as “The Matrix” by his Italian teammates, received an apology from London’s Daily Star newspaper last week for publishing that he had used “vile racist” language to goad Zinedane Zidane into headbutting him during the 2006 World Cup Final. In addition to the apology, Materrazi is receiving an undisclosed sum for his damages.
The Daily Star basically had stated that lip readers had confirmed Mr. Materrazi referred to Mr. Zidane’s kindly old mother as a “terrorist whore” in order to provoke Zidane into a confrontation. Zidane refused to confirm the rumor, and though Materazzi denied it, the damage was done in the court of public opinion. The Matrix was a racist.
Well, Materazzi now claims that the elder Madame Zidane never entered the conversation between he and Zizou. In fact, he claims he simply called Zidane’s sister a whore, and never made a racially offensive comment. The Daily Star apparently agrees and has retracted its earlier lip reader story.
The exchange as Materazzi describes it seems plausible. From watching replays of the event (which we all did ad nauseum), it is clear that the conversation begins because Materazzi, like every “good” Italian defenseman, simply will not stop cheating by holding Zidane’s jersey. Zidane, always arrogant, can clearly be seen smiling as he remarks something in Italian to The Matrix along the lines of “if you want my jersey, after the match I will give it to you.” According to Materazzi, he responded “I would rather have the whore that is your sister.”
Not the best English translation, I know, but this could have clearly set Zidane off. Moments later, all 6’4″ of Materazzi is crumpled on the pitch and Zidane is jogging around like nothing happened.
I, for one, never felt sorry for Materazzi. Especially not after seeing all the ridiculous ways he has profited from the whole controvery. Materrazi has released books with witty insults, a song about the headbutt and he has become a folk hero in his native Italy.
Almost makes me wish someone would headbutt me.
The only reason I feel sorry for Materrazi is because he played the game of his life in the World Cup Final, yet no one will remember that. He scored the equalizer and one of the post-OT shootout PKs.
But, despite his heroic play, he will always be remembered more for being on the receiving end of sport’s most famous meltdown.
So, two years after the international controversy first exploded, we finally know that while Marco Materazzi is not a racist, he still thinks your sister may be a french prostitute. And, of course, he would still prefer her to your French National Team jersey, even if game worn by one of the greatest players of a generation, Zizou.