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FIFA trying to bring together Zidane and Materazzi

india Updated: Sep 12, 2006 11:59 IST
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FIFA wants to bring together Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi so they can put the head-butting incident from the World Cup final behind them.

"We are definitely working on that," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday.

Blatter said one suggestion was for the two to meet at Robben Island in South Africa, where former President Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid leaders were once imprisoned. "We are working on bringing together Zidane and Materazzi and to bring to end this story," Blatter said. "It is a pity ... that the World Cup comes to an end with a red card."

Zidane, the France captain who was playing the final match of his career, rammed his head into the Italian defender's chest in extra time of the World Cup final July 9 in Berlin. Italy went on to win the title on penalties.

Zidane had already announced his intention to retire after the World Cup. The incident put a final blemish on one of the greatest soccer careers of the last decade.

Materazzi acknowledged last week that he had insulted Zidane's sister. Zidane said Sunday he had put the incident behind him. "It's in the past," Zidane told Canal Plus about his reaction to Materazzi's provocation.

Zidane said he has had nightmares about losing the World Cup final, and said France could have won it "much better than the Italians."

"But things happened the way they happened," he said. "We have to live with it."

In acknowledging his provocation, Materazzi said he was ready to make peace with Zidane.

Blatter, while saying the World Cup should not end with a red card, added that it also should not end with penalty kicks. "But we have no other solution," Blatter said. "But we will find one.

"Penalties take out the essence of soccer as a team sport and it becomes one-on-one," the FIFA chief said.

Blatter was speaking at the start of a two-day conference to assess the World Cup in Germany. The gathering was jointly organized by FIFA and UEFA for national team coaches and technical directors of the 32 World Cup teams, plus all other members of UEFA.

"I am still a happy FIFA president," Blatter said, referring to the tournament which he called "exceptional at all levels." "For four weeks, positive emotions went into the world," he said, adding that the total television audience for the four-week tournament surpassed 30 billion viewers.

UEFA president Lennart Johansson said the World Cup had been a "huge success."

"I am glad that there were almost no hooligans and I hope that it's the start of a new era," Johansson said.