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Section 1: Zidane lets feet do the talking
July 8th, 2006 9:45PM

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By Paul Kennedy
Managing Editor
Soccer America

Retiring Zinedine Zidane is letting his feet doing the talking.

In what would be unheard upon in American sports, Zidane has refused to speak to the press since before France's opening game of the 2006 World Cup. Even before the final game of his career, he didn't talk to press. Nor did any of his teammates.

Raymond Domenech, the coach of the surprise finalists, wasn't bothered that no player accompanied him for the final press conference before Sunday's final against Italy in Berlin.

"I understand why he [Zidane] does not want to talk," said Domenech. "Like all the others he is saying the same thing, 'Don't talk, do." They [the players] were so criticized after 2002, so they have decided to keep quiet until tomorrow."

France was eliminated after the first round in 2002 -- it was the first defending champion to fail to get out of the first round -- and wasn't expected to reach this year's final, especially after lackluster performances in ties against Switzerland and South Korea.

PROBABLES.
Italy (4-3-2-1): 1-Gianluigi Buffon (66-0); 19-Gianluca Zambrotta (57-2), 23-Marco Materazzi (31-1), 5-Fabio Cannavaro (99-1), 3-Fabio Grosso (22-2); 20-Simone Perrotta (30-1), 21-Andrea Pirlo (30-5), 8-Gennaro Gattuso (46-1); 16-Mauro Camoranesi (25-1), 10-Francesco Totti (57-9); 9-Luca Toni (23-9).
France: (4-2-3-1): 16-Fabien Barthez (86-0); 19-Willy Sagnol (44-0), 15-Lilian Thuram (120-2), 5-William Gallas (46-1), 3-Eric Abidal (13-0); 4-Patrick Vieira (93-6), 6-Claude Makelele (49-0); 22-Franck Ribery (9-1), 10-Zinedine Zidane (107-30), 7-Florent Malouda (18-2); 12-Thierry Henry (84-36)

REFEREE.
Argentine Horacio Elizondo officiated the opening game of the World Cup and will do the final. He has handed out 22 yellow cards and two red cards in four games at the 2006 World Cup. Elizondo's most famous call was to red card England striker Wayne Rooney for stamping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho in their quarterfinal clash in Gelsenkirchen. His most controversial card was the yellow to Ghana's Asamoah Gyan for taking his penalty kick prematurely against the Czech Republic. Gyan, who shot because he heard a whistle in the crowd, missed the retake -- and missed the next game against the USA because it was his second yellow in group play. In the Switzerland-South Korea game later in group play, Elizondo overruled compatriot Rodolfo Otero's offside flag as Alexander Frei ran clear on to a deflected pass and several Korean defenders stopped playing. Frei's goal was the second Swiss goal in a 2-0 win. FIFA was forced to block e-mail messages from angry Korea fans to protect its web site for going down.

Rooney banned for two games

Rooney was handed a two-game suspension -- he will miss England's opening Euro 2008 qualifiers against Andorra and Macedonia --  and fined 5,000 Swiss francs ($4,072) by FIFA's disciplinary committee on Saturday for his dismissal against Portugal.

Argentines Leandro Cufre and Maxi Rodriguez must serve four and two-game suspensions for their part in the melee after their loss to Germany in the quarterfinals.



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