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Zidane Apologizes for Head-Butting Italian Player in World Cup


French soccer champion Zinedine Zidane apologized for deliberately butting an Italian player during the World Cup playoff Sunday, but says he had been insulted. The world soccer federation could revoke Zidane's title as best player.

Zidane's apology came during a television interview Wednesday night, three days after France lost to Italy in the World Cup final in Berlin.

Minutes before the game ended, the French player butted an Italian opponent, Marco Materazzi in the chest. He was ousted from the game, which he has declared would be his last before retiring.

During his interview on Canal television, Zidane said Materazzi had clutched his shirt. When Zidane told him to let go, he said Materazzi insulted Zidane's mother and sister, and repeated the insults several times.

Zidane apologized for butting the player before so many television viewers, but he said he didn't regret his actions.

Materazzi admits to having insulted Zidane, but denies having called him a dirty terrorist as rumors initially suggested.

The world soccer federation, FIFA, is examining the incident. And earlier Wednesday, the federation's president said Zidane could lose his title as best player in this year's cup, if FIFA found the player had acted in an unsportsmanlike way.

Despite his gesture, Zidane remains a hero in France. A new poll shows 61 percent of French have forgiven him for the butting incident. And French President Jacques Chirac has praised the player's performance and his role in guiding the French team during the tournament.