London : Cricket sledging may look like the banter of giggly schoolgirls after revelations Tuesday about what international footballers say to each other in the heat of the moment.
The British newspaper Daily Mail said Tuesday it had agreed to pay “substantial” damages to Italian defender Marco Materazzi for suggesting he had made racist insults to French captain Zinedine Zidane during the 2006 World Cup final.
Zidane had headbutted Materazzi in the infamous match, sparking media speculation on what the Italian had said, with the Daily Mail claiming he had called Zidane “the son of a terrorist whore”.
But Materazzi later revealed in his autobiography what he had really said to Zidane.
Materazzi said he pulled Zidane’s shirt, prompting the French captain to say he would give him his shirt after the game – but in a tone that apparently implied the Italian was not worthy of it.
“Because I was annoyed by his arrogance, I replied, ‘Preferisco la puttana di tua sorella’ (I would rather have your whore of a sister),” Materazzi wrote, according to The Guardian.
“In my experience, what I said to Zidane is similar to the sort of thing that is said by footballers to footballers all around the world,” said Materazzi, who has also won apologies from the Sun and the Daily Star over similar claims of racism.
The Daily Mail said Tuesday: “We incorrectly suggested that Mr. Materazzi had goaded Zidane into head-butting him by using vile racist abuse including calling him ‘son of a terrorist whore’.
“We now accept that Mr Materazzi did not say anything of a racist nature. We apologise to Mr Materazzi for the distress and embarrassment caused by our allegations.
“We have agreed to pay him substantial damages and his legal costs.”