Zidane treated outrageously: Gosper
14th July 2006, 8:20 WST
Kevan Gosper, one of Australia's top Olympic officials, has hit out at soccer's world governing body FIFA over Zinedine Zidane's dismissal in the World Cup final for failing to take into account the effect of verbal abuse.
The France captain was sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest after the Italian defender allegedly repeatedly insulted his mother and sister.
Zidane spoke on French television on Wednesday about the hurtful nature of the comments and while he would not elaborate on the exact words, he said he would have preferred "to have been punched in the face".
Gosper, one of Australia's senior International Olympic Committee members, described Zidane's straight red card as "outrageous" as it failed to consider Materazzi's role in the incident.
With the incident now under investigation by FIFA, Gosper said the organisation had the opportunity to crack down on the blight of sledging in sport.
"The outrageous on-field treatment of Zinedine Zidane offers the FIFA Disciplinary Review Panel an opportunity to send a message to the sporting world that verbal abuse can be more wounding than physical attack and will not be tolerated," Gosper said in a statement on Thursday.
Gosper called on FIFA to acknowledge the psychological effect sledging can have upon sportsmen and to treat it as seriously as any physical abuse during matches.
"Without a public appreciation by FIFA of the long-term impact on Zidane, he will carry forever the burden of a verbal abuse every bit as wounding as a physical attack," Gosper said.
"The referee got it wrong when he failed to establish the reason for Zidane acting as he did before abandoning him to the Hall of Infamy."
France went on to lose the World Cup final to Italy 5-3 on penalties, following Zidane's dismissal with 10 minutes to play in extra-time and the score level at 1-1.