FIFA wants Zidane, Materazzi to make peace

Monday, September 11th 2006, 10:24 am
By: News On 6

BERLIN (AP) _ Soccer's governing body wants Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi to make peace after the infamous World Cup head-butt.

``We are definitely working on that,'' FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday before a two-day conference to assess the World Cup in Germany.

One suggestion was for them to meet at Robben Island in South Africa, where former President Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid leaders were once imprisoned, Blatter said.

``We are working on bringing together Zidane and Materazzi and to bring to end this story,'' Blatter said.

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

Zidane had already announced his intention to retire after the World Cup. The play marred one of the greatest soccer careers of the last decade.

Materazzi acknowledged last week that he had insulted Zidane's sister, and was ready to resolve this matter. Zidane told Canal Plus television the play is now ``in the past,'' although he has had nightmares about losing the World Cup.

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

Zidane was banned by FIFA for three games for his actions, even though he is retired. He will serve his punishment by doing community work. He also was fined $6,000 while Materazzi was suspended for two games and fined $4,000.

Blatter is unhappy with a World Cup decided by penalty kicks.

``But we have no other solution,'' he said. ``But we will find one. Penalties take out the essence of soccer as a team sport and it becomes 1-on-1.''

The two-day conference is organized by FIFA and European soccer's governing body 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. ``For four weeks, positive emotions went into the world.''

He said the television audience for the four-week tournament surpassed 30 billion viewers.