- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2006

12:30 p.m.

MILAN, Italy (AP) — Marco Materazzi acknowledged that he insulted Zinedine Zidane before the French captain head-butted him in the World Cup final, but repeated his denial that he called Zidane a “terrorist.”

“I did insult him, it’s true,” Materazzi said in today’s Gazzetta dello Sport. “But I categorically did not call him a terrorist. I’m not cultured, and I don’t even know what an Islamic terrorist is.”

A Paris-based anti-racism group issued a statement yesterday saying Materazzi had called Zidane, whose parents emigrated to France from Algeria, a “dirty terrorist.”

Zidane and Materazzi exchanged words during extra time of Sunday’s World Cup final in Berlin. Seconds later, Zidane lowered his head and rammed Materazzi in the chest, knocking him to the ground. Zidane was ejected from the match.

“I held his shirt for a few seconds only, then he turned round and spoke to me, sneering,” the Italian defender told the newspaper. “He looked me up and down, arrogantly, and said: ‘If you really want my shirt, I’ll give it to you afterwards.’”

The 32-year-old Inter Milan player did not elaborate on exactly what he had said to Zidane.

“It was one of those insults you’re told tens of times and that always fly around the pitch,” he said.

Algeria’s president defended Zidane and said soccer fans shouldn’t condemn the French star.

“We are just human beings, our duty is not to judge, our duty is to understand,” Abdelaziz Bouteflika said in London after meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

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