ZURICH, Switzerland - Zinedine Zidane will perform community service as penance for his infamous head butt on Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final. Materazzi didn’t get off unscathed, either.
The French midfielder, voted the best player in the championships, also was fined $6,000 by FIFA on Thursday and agreed to work with children in lieu of a three-game suspension. The penalty is irrelevant because at 34, Zidane has retired from soccer.
Materazzi, the Italian defender who provoked the head butt by insulting Zidane, was suspended for two games and fined $4,000.
Italy went on to win its fourth World Cup, 5-3, on penalties after a 1-1 extra-time draw.
“Community service is not something foreseen in the regulations,” said Andreas Herren, a spokesman for soccer’s governing body. “It is a gesture, given the special circumstances involved.”
Zidane has said he attacked Materazzi because he insulted his mother and sister. Materazzi denied disparaging Zidane’s mother.
FIFA said Materazzi was punished for “repeatedly provoking Zidane.”
“Both players stressed that Materazzi’s comments had been defamatory but not of a racist nature,” FIFA said in a statement.
The players apologized to FIFA for “their inappropriate behavior and expressed their regret at the incident,” FIFA said.
Materazzi will miss Italy’s opening two Euro 2008 qualifiers against Lithuania on Sept. 2 and France on Sept. 6.
The president of France’s soccer federation, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, was satisfied, saying Zidane’s “way of paying the penalty is perhaps the best that we could imagine.”
“It was intelligent, measured and reasonable. It shows knowledge of the world of football,” Escalettes said. “It’s a verdict that satisfies me. The provoker of the incident has been punished.”
Zidane, who had already submitted written testimony, spent about 90 minutes in a private hearing Thursday morning before a five-man FIFA committee. Materazzi appeared before the FIFA panel last week.
“We respect the definitive verdict by FIFA’s disciplinary commission,” Italian soccer federation commissioner Guido Rossi said. “But the episode was captured on television and (any opinion) is up to the judgment of people throughout the world.”
Former Italy captain Paolo Maldini said it was “scandalous to ban a player for having said something.”
“It’s the first time that it’s happened and it’s only because Materazzi is Italian and because they want to justify the gesture of a great champion, who made a mistake,” he said at AC Milan’s training camp.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter had suggested Zidane, widely considered one of the greatest players of his generation, could be stripped of his Golden Ball award as the World Cup’s best player. The issue was not addressed by the disciplinary panel, FIFA said.
In a French television appearance last week, Zidane apologized to children who watched the match, but said he didn’t regret his actions because he was provoked by repeated harsh insults about his family.
Playing in extra time in his farewell game, Zidane and Materazzi exchanged words as the two walked up field. Zidane appeared to be distancing himself from the Italian, but then turned, lowered his bald head, and drove it into Materazzi’s chest — knocking him to the ground.
The Italian soccer federation said it hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal the decision on Materazzi.
PST: Jozy Altidore scored in a fourth straight game and the United States beat Honduras in World Cup qualifying to stay atop the group.
Beckham says bye
Images of David Beckham's celebrated soccer career, both on the field and off it as a global icon.
Video: Soccer from NBC Sports
Police clash with protesters in Brazil
Police in Brazil used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up demonstrations outside a Rio stadium before a Confederations Cup match. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.
Latest from ProSoccerTalk
Jozy Altidore the hero as the U.S. beats Honduras 1-01 hr 31 min ago
USA 1-0 Honduras: Who is Man of the Match?1 hr 40 min ago
Eddie Pope makes an appearance at United States match6 hr 11 min ago
First MLS man qualifies for World Cup7 hr 54 min ago
ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings9 hr 55 min ago
Can the United States deal with success vs. Honduras?11 hr 20 min ago
Just for kicks: Soccer WAGs
Take a look at soccer wives and girlfriends from all over the world.