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FIFA fiat: Community service for Zizou

The former French skipper will serve his penalty by doing community work.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2006 10:22 IST

Zinedine Zidane was banned by FIFA for three games on Thursday for head-butting Italy defender Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final.

Now retired from soccer, the former France captain will serve his punishment by doing community work. Materazzi was suspended for two matches for provoking Zidane with insults.

World soccer's governing body also fined Zidane 7,500 Swiss francs (US$6,000) and Materazzi 5,000 francs (US$4,000) after a disciplinary committee heard the French player's account of what led to the incident.

Zidane, who retired after his team's loss in the July 9 final in Berlin, was sent off for ramming Materazzi in the chest with his head.

Because the ban is only academic, he agreed to do three days of community service with children as part of FIFA's humanitarian projects.

"Community service is not something foreseen in the regulations," FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said. "It is a gesture, given the special circumstances involved."

Zidane has said he attacked Materazzi because he insulted his mother and sister, while Materazzi denied insulting Zidane's mother. FIFA said Materazzi was punished for "repeatedly provoking Zidane."

"Both players stressed that Materazzi's comments had been defamatory but not of a racist nature," FIFA said in a statement. Both players apologized to FIFA for "their inappropriate behavior and expressed their regret at the incident," the statement said.

Zidane, who had already submitted written testimony, spent about 90 minutes in a private hearing on Thursday morning before a five-man FIFA committee. Materazzi appeared before the FIFA panel last week.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had suggested Zidane, widely considered one of the greatest players of his generation, could have been stripped of his Golden Ball award as the World Cup's best player.

In a French television appearance last week, Zidane apologized to children who watched the match, but said he didn't regret his actions because he was provoked by repeated harsh insults about his family.

Playing in extra time in his farewell game, Zidane and Materazzi exchanged words as the two walked up field. Zidane appeared to be distancing himself from the Italian, but then turned, lowered his baldhead, and drove it into Materazzi's chest - knocking him to the ground.

Zidane was sent off, and Italy went on to win its fourth World Cup. It won the game 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 extra-time draw. The Italian soccer federation said it hasn't decided yet whether to appeal the decision on Materazzi.