t was one of those dramatic moments burned on the retina of every sports fan. As the world speculated about why French captain Zinedine Zidane had felled Italian player Marco Materazzi with a head-butt in the 2006 World Cup final, newspapers rushed to fill the void.
But the Daily Mail was forced yesterday 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 Italy's 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".