NOAH ADAMS, Host:
He was kicked out by the referee, and France later lost the game on penalty kicks. Eleanor Beardsley joins us from Paris. Eleanor, FIFA decided to punish both players, Zidane and the Italian, at this meeting in Zurich today.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Yes that's right. FIFA banned Zinedine Zidane from three games and fined him around $6,000.00, and Materazzi was banned from two games and fined $4,000.00. But for Zidane it's largely symbolic because he has retired, so he's going to do three days of community service with children.
ADAMS: There's been a lot of speculation about what the comments could have been running up and down the field that triggered this with Zidane, but do you have any more information about that?
BEARDSLEY: Well I think no one knows for sure. Both players did confirm today, that the comments were not racist. But however, Paris Match's Thursday edition came out today and based on lip-readers, they have printed what they say are trashy language involving both Zidane's mother and sister.
ADAMS: Right, and I guess that will continue for a year or so.
BEARDSLEY: Yes. There'll be a lot of speculation, but I don't think anyone will ever know.
ADAMS: Right. What has been the reaction of the French people to this judgment today, and to Zidane himself? Where does he stand now, in sort of the hierarchy of French sports heroes.
BEARDSLEY: He's just a football player and it's - you know, we have to wake up to reality. So his image has been a little bit tarnished, but Zizou, as he is called here, I think he's pretty much still in the nation's heart.
ADAMS: Now one point we need to clear up here. He was given the title of the World Cup's best player, the Golden Ball award, and there was talk that could be taken away from him.
BEARDSLEY: That's right, and that wasn't even discussed, apparently, so I think people are even relieved today, that he's retained that.
ADAMS: And for him in the future, what's happening?
BEARDSLEY: Well, his sponsors have stood by him. President Chirac still supports him. Like we said, he didn't lose his most valuable player award, and he'll go down as the best player, probably of his generation, an immigration success story as well. And let's face it, the drama of all this - and the French love drama, you know, a national icon who cracked at his peak in a World Cup final - that's going to be talked about for as long as they're playing soccer.
ADAMS: Eleanor Beardsley talking with us in Paris. Thank you Eleanor.
BEARDSLEY: Thank you.
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