Materazzi wins libel damages

The Italian defender Marco Materazzi wins libel damages from a British newspaper over claims he racially abused Zinedine Zidane.

LONDON // The Italian defender Marco Materazzi has won libel damages from a British newspaper. There were reports that he racially abused Zinedine Zidane before the Frenchmen was sent off in the 2006 World Cup final for headbutting him when the two clashed on the pitch. Although the amount of damages was not disclosed, the Inter Milan star successfully sued the Daily Mail for wrongly reporting that Materazzi had racially vilified Zidane, before the French star butted the Italian's chest in extra time.

Zidane was sent off and Italy went on to win the final in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in Berlin's Olympic Stadium. He retired straight after the match. Materazzi's lawyer for the case, Jane Phillips, told the judge that in its coverage of the July 2006 World Cup final, the newspaper published a series of items accompanied by photos, including one of Materazzi being headbutted by Zidane, captioned 'Revealed: the insult that made Zidane see red'. Ms Phillips said the articles stated quite wrongly that Materazzi, who scored Italy's goal in the final, had used 'vile, racist abuse' during the match.

From July to December that year, she said that the Daily Mail also published articles on its website which included similar defamatory material. Ms Phillips told the judge that the newspaper accepted all of the allegations were wholly untrue and that there was no question of Materazzi having said anything of a racist nature to Zidane to goad him. Jonathan Price, lawyer for the Daily Mail owners, said that it offered its apologies for the distress and embarrassment caused, and had agreed to pay Materazzi substantial damages and his costs. Materazzi did not appear at the hearing.