Mail pays libel damages to Materazzi over racism claims

November 4th, 2008 - 5:39 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Nov 4 (ANI): Italian soccer star Marco Materazzi today accepted substantial undisclosed damages over Daily Mail articles which said that he has used vile racist abuse to French captain Zinedine Zidane.

As the world speculated about why French captain Zidane had felled Italian player Materazzi with a head-butt in the 2006 World Cup final, newspapers rushed to fill the void.

The Daily Mail was forced to pay substantial libel damages to the Italian star for alleging that it was vile racist abuse that had provoked Zidane to bring his final match in a France shirt to such an ignominious end.

The Inter Milan player, who scored Italys equalising goal and one of the winning penalties in the 2006 final in Berlin, launched the action after the Mail published articles speculating that he had called Zidane the son of a terrorist whore.

The claims were made over a number of days, including in a front-page story under the headline Revealed: The insult that made Zidane see red and others headlined The slur on his mother that made Zidane lose his head and Team-mates back Zidane as Italian insult is revealed.

After the match, Materazzi admitted insulting Zidane but denied racially abusing him, calling him a terrorist or insulting his mother, The Guardian reported.

In his autobiography, Materazzi gave his account of the incident, in which he said he was incensed by Zidanes arrogant attitude after he had pulled his shirt.

Materazzi wrote that Zidane had said he would give him his shirt after the game, but his tone, the Italian player claimed, implied he 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).

He added: In my experience, what I said to Zidane is similar to the sort of thing that is said by footballers on football pitches all around the world … I certainly did not expect the extreme reaction that I then had from Zidane, which was out of all proportion to anything which I had said.

Materazzi has won apologies and damages from the Sun and the Daily Star over similar claims of racism. The Mail will also be forced to publish an apology in newspaper.

The Daily Mail now accepts that the allegations are wholly untrue and there is no question of Marco Materazzi having said anything of a racist nature to Zidane, said the Italian players lawyer, Steven Heffer of Collyer Bristow.

A five-day trial had been due to start last month but a few days before, the Mail capitulated. (ANI)

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