France legend Zinedine Zidane has been handed a fine and a nominal three-match ban for his World Cup final HEAD-BUTT on Italy defender Marco Materazzi, who has himself been suspended for two games and fined for provoking the incident, writes BEN GLADWELL.

Zidane's ban is made academic by the fact that he has since quit football, but the 34-year-old will instead spend three days working with world governing body FIFA. He was fined 7500 Swiss francs (�3260) while Materazzi had to pay 5000 Swiss francs (�2170) for the incident, which happened during extra-time of the final, with the game poised at 1-1. Italy, who had been under pressure before Zidane was sent off, went on to win 5-3 on penalties.

The ruling means Materazzi will miss Italy's trip to Paris for their Euro 2008 qualifier against the French on September 6, as well as their match against Lithuania in Naples four days earlier.

FIFA confirmed the Italian defender's comments to Zidane had not been of a racist nature. World football's organising body also confirmed Zidane would keep his Golden Ball award as the tournament's Best Player.

Zidane's sending-off hit the French at a time when they appeared to be getting on top and also deprived them of their best penalty taker.

The midfielder later complained Materazzi had provoked him with remarks about his family.

FIFA, while excluding any racial element, have not disclosed exactly what the Italian said to Zidane. Both players have a history of disciplinary troubles, and the sending-off was the 14th of Zidane's career and his second in a World Cup — he picked up a two-match ban for stamping on a Saudi Arabian opponent in the 1998 tournament won by France.

Materazzi is widely remembered in England for the three red cards he picked up in just 32 appearances for Everton.

FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren told journalists: "Zinedine Zidane will be suspended for three matches and fined 7500 Swiss francs.

"However, the committee has taken note that he has declared his career is over and taken note of Zidane's pledge to do three days community service within FIFA's humanitarian activities.

"Marco Materazzi will be suspended for two official matches of the Italian national team and fined the sum of 5000 Swiss francs for repeatedly provoking Zidane.

"In both of the players' statements, the two players expressed regret over the incident and presented their excuses to FIFA and the football community over what had happened.

"They both stressed that the verbal provocation was of an insulting nature but not — and I stress — of any racist nature."

Match referee Horacio Elizondo, an Argentinian, and fourth official Luis Medina Cantalejo, from Spain, also spoke with the disciplinary committee. Herren said: "I would like to reiterate that the fourth official saw the incident with his own eyes and did not see it on the monitor.

"The fourth officials are trained to see off-the-ball incidents and not just concentrate on the action where the referee is involved and the regulations state they are to report any violent incident to the referee."

Zidane had earlier given evidence to the hearing before leaving without comment to reporters. Last week Materazzi presented his side of the case in a separate hearing.

Inter Chief Questions -- MATERAZZIBAN

Inter Milan president Giacinto Facchetti has questioned FIFA's decision to hand Italy defender Marco Materazzi (Pic. left) a two-match ban for insulting Zinedine Zidane.

"Furthermore, cases like this rewrite laws and create precedents that will force various disciplinary committees to call both players involved in provoking reactions and reactions."

Guido Rossi, the retired politician brought in to clean up the game in Italy after the recent corruption scandal, hinted that the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) would not appeal a verdict that rules Materazzi out of Euro 2008 qualifiers with Lithuania on September 2 in Naples and France in Paris four days later in a rematch of the World Cup final.

Rossi said: "The definitive verdict of the FIFA disciplinary committee will be respected by us.

"But the episode will remain consigned to the TV images and to the public opinion of the entire world."

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