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World Cup final 2006

Referee reveals truth on Zidane red card for Materazzi headbutt

Argentine official Horacio Elizondo was in charge of the 2006 World Cup final between Italy and France, the fateful day that saw Zinedine Zidane's last game for his country.
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Referee reveals truth on Zidane red card for Materazzi headbutt

It was the 2006 World Cup final. France were playing Italy. And as Italy went on to win 5-3 on penalties, the game is remembered for one of the most shocking scenes in such a setting, as Zinedine Zidane threw his head into the chest of Marco Materazzi. The same two players had scored to leave the game at 1-1 before the spot kicks.

Zidane's headbutt on Materazzi

The referee that day was Horacio Elizondo from Argentina and 12 years on from the final he has taken part in a TED talk to give his version of events.

"At one moment I saw Materazzi lying on the floor, about thirty or forty metres away, and so I stopped the game. Swiftly, through our intercoms, I asked my assistants what happened. Surprisingly, both of them replied to me, 'we saw absolutely nothing'", relayed Elizondo.

Referee's passionate 'guardian angel'

It was at this point that a Spaniard by the name of Luis Medina Cantalejo stepped in, someone who Elizondo described as his 'guardian angel'. Acting as the fourth official that day, Medina had seen it all clearly.

"Dreadful, Zidane's headbutt on Materazzi was dreadful... Fuck! Zidane headbutted Materazzi. When you see the video you will not believe me."

Although referee Elizondo had been looking for a more technical response to the situation, he explained that his Spanish assistant had given him a very impassioned outburst.

"The only thing he failed to say was 'olé'," he joked.

Zidane's red card decision

On the moment Elizondo actually produced the red card he said:

"When I went across to the scene of the crime I already had this information and knew that I was going to send Zidane off."