Thomas
Hunter at the Crikey sports desk writes:

Zidane
vs Materazzi: FIFA have their say.
Until Zinedine Zidane releases his
biography (which may not be any time soon), this could be as close as we get to
an explanation of that infamous World Cup head-butt. Zidane and Marco
Materazzi have both been sanctioned by FIFA overnight, sharing the blame for
the incident, but denying there was a racial slur involved. Zidane has been
fined $A8000 and suspended for three games, but given he has retired he has
agreed to perform “community service”, working with kids on one of FIFA’s
humanitarian projects. Materazzi admitted to making defamatory comments and has
been fined $A5000 and suspended for two games, posing the question, will every
player who makes disparaging remarks about an opponent’s family be liable for
the same punishment? The answer to that, put simply, is “No”. We liked The Times‘s interpretation:
“The Italian football federation, which is dealing
with the domestic match-fixing scandal at present, can appeal against
Materazzi’s ban. If it does not, he will miss the Euro 2008 qualifying fixture
against France in September, when FIFA’s zero tolerance on name-calling
is likely to be tested to the limit.”

Ellis
returns for showdown with Silver Ferns.
Liz Ellis’s
decorated netball career looked in jeopardy last October when she suffered a
serious knee injury, but now, after reconstructive surgery, the Australian
co-captain is preparing to make what she hopes will be a triumphant return
against New Zealand in Brisbane tomorrow night. Australia has lost its past
three matches against the Silver Ferns, and Ellis’s return will provide a
much-needed boost in confidence. But that’s not the only motivating factor for
the Australians – rugby legend Wayne Bennet delivered a half-hour address this
week in a bid to convince the team they are on the right track. Given that the
Australians were beaten by New Zealand for the gold medal at this year’s
Commonwealth Games, even without Bennett’s motivational speech, the Aussies
have a score to settle.

British
Open round one results.
Irishman Ian McDowell shot
a course record 66 to finish the first round of the British Open with a one
shot lead at Royal Liverpool overnight, yet he doesn’t enjoy anything like a
comfortable lead after the first day’s play. Tiger Woods is one of five players
one stroke back, with Sergio Garcia, Mike Weir, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, and Ben
Crane joined by Australians Adam Scott, Marcus Fraser and Mark Hensby all on
four under. Of the other Australians, Brett Allenby and Rod Pampling are at
three under, with last week’s John Deere Classic winner John Senden joined on
two under by Aaron Baddeley and Nick O’Hern. Woods, who is the defending
champion, would have been a further shot back if it hadn’t been for a spot of
pre-round TV watching. After sinking a seven metre putt on the 18th, Woods told
reporters
: “I
don’t know who it was, but someone made that putt earlier this morning. I was
watching it on the telecast. It doesn’t break at the end, it holds its line. I
played it on the right edge … Normally I would have given that hole away if I
hadn’t seen that putt earlier in the morning.”

Peter Fray

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