The final of the 2006 World Cup in Germany had a special detail: for the first time, an Argentine led the decisive match. It is about Horacio Elizondo, who entered history for having such a privilege.
Also, Elizondo remained in the memory of many football fans, Argentine or not, for the play in which he expelled Zinedine Zidane, one of the best footballers of all time, who had announced that this final would be his fired match.
Seven minutes into the first half, the French star scored the partial 1-0; At 18, Marco Materazzi put the 1 to 1 that would ultimately be the final result of the match.
The parity would continue until overtime, which led the game to a dramatic penalty shootout.
But before reaching that instance, the fact occurred that led to the red to Zidane. Undoubtedly a difficult decision for the referee to make, in a final and before the highest ranking player on the pitch.
It all happened in the 110th minute of the game. A tremendous header from Zidane on Materazzi’s chest shook the entire stadium. The Italian was twisted on the grass and Zidane next to him; the ball was elsewhere and that is why Elizondo did not get to see the action.
Of course, at that time there was no VAR, which would have brought clarity to the matter. But there were the TV cameras that closely followed what happened. Anyway, the fastest of all was the fourth official, who ultimately told Elizondo what had happened.
“When I stop the game and go to the place where the Italian player was lying, there I ask my assistants, over the intercoms, if they had seen anything. They both tell me they didn’t see anything… But Luis Medina Cantalejo, the fourth official in that match, tells me: ‘There was a terrible header from 10 for the Whites to 10 for the Blues.’ I don’t remember if Materazzi had just that number (he actually had 23), but I never doubted his word. So I went and made the decision to expel him ”, Elizondo recalled.
Elizondo later said that he decided to imply that the notice of the header came to him through one of the linesmen, so that it would be clear why and how he came to make that decision, since he was far from the action in that moment and had no chance of seeing what happened. What still raises doubts is whether the fourth official actually saw the action at the time, or did it seconds later on one of the TV monitors. Something forbidden in times when VAR did not exist.
Then Italy won on penalties, and of course France missed the opportunity to have Zidane as one of the executors. The Frenchman acknowledged that he was well sent off, although he questioned the referee about the forms of the measure he took, since he knew that Elizondo had not seen the controversial play.
Over time, it transpired what happened to such a reaction from Zidane. Materazzi had roughly scored the Frenchman throughout the final. Zizou reacted verbally first. And after suffering a t-shirt grab, he said: “If you want my shirt I’ll give it to you in the locker room.” Materazzi’s response was, according to the Italian defender himself, “An insult that is heard so many times on the playing field. I told him that before his shirt, he preferred his sister ”. Zidane, for his part, explained that the insult was towards his mother, who was ill.
The truth is that today, without an audience on the courts, the literal transcription of what happened would be being subtitled all over the world. And with great detail. At that time, without a pandemic and with full stadiums, it was impossible to listen to the protagonists. But the header, Zidane and Materazzi, with Elizondo as referee, remained in history.