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Craig Oliver Craig Oliver | 11:25 UK time, Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Sometimes there is one question everyone wants to know the answer to.

BBC Ten O'Clock News logoYesterday it was: what did Materazzi say to Zidane to make him attack him in such spectacular style?

Neither player was speaking about it, so a more cunning approach was required. We needed a lip reader who could speak Italian - Zidane has played in the country and understands the language.

Our translators at work watching the footageWe asked our team in Rome to come up with the goods. It was a long shot - but it paid off. We found a deaf man who translated what Materazzi said into sign language, and someone who could translate the sign language into English.

I will leave to your imagination what the sign language for "go **** yourself" was... The signs for "I hope your family all die ugly deaths" were a little easier to show.

The result was a genuine scoop - and a lot more accurate than some of the claims in today's papers.


This is about the 10th version I read about the incident.

Do you really think lip-reading is fair game here, especially when twice translated?

  • 2.
  • At 01:39 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • nerdboy wrote:

There are certainly more important things you could be covering rather than this piece.

Also, how is it that you know you are a lot more accurate than other publications, do you know what was said?

  • 3.
  • At 02:08 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • pranab hazra wrote:

Zinedene Zidane, A great player, World is egarly waiting to witness the miracle from him,was not expected to bear such an end.He should not be induced to do something recklessly as to be driven out from the field

What happened between Zidane and Masserati was a disgrace.

  • 5.
  • At 03:25 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • brendan wrote:

Easy, nerdboy. I thought this was quite interesting - and it was good to see someone really going to some lengths to get it right. it's a lot more believable when you've actually seen someone doing the translation.

  • 6.
  • At 03:40 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Arno wrote:

How can you be sure that the BBC's results are more accurate then someone elses if you don't know what was truly said?

All you can say is that your guess is better than theirs. But it is still a guess.

  • 7.
  • At 03:44 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Zoe wrote:

i wondered about that too. I don't suppose we'll ever know for sure what was said. Have the two got a long lasting animosity or was it just a heat of the moment thing?

  • 8.
  • At 03:50 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • I Ahmad wrote:

"Fair game" and "more important things"? Surely given the importance of the fight against racism (& facism, especially in Italian football) and the fact that such an alleged action may have occured in a World Cup final, of all games, would make it a legitimate subject to investigate? Personally, I think that even if it is not a recial/religious slur, comments of the nature as wishing death upon one's family goes far beyond what is acceptable or part and parcel of a football game.

Do some readers really think taking Materazzi's word (or that of his agent) is sufficiently conclusive - would these readers also take the words of a politician as final and correct and beyond investigating? I doubt it. News organisations are perfectly entitled to use any means of investigation as the context requires. Given there is clearly no sound, using lip-readers, even if not perfect, is justified. And if they believe it can counter the denials of Materazzi and his agent, they are entitled to express their view.

Fair play - thought it was a good scoop.

  • 10.
  • At 04:28 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Kevin Goodburn wrote:

Irrespective of what was actually (or not said), whilst racism has no place in football (or anywhere else for that matter)… he’s an extremely talented well paid athlete who should not of reacted the way he did, no matter what may or may not have provoked him! Red card Zidane, and deservedly so!

  • 11.
  • At 04:53 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • J.G. wrote:

'A genuine scoop'? Yet the BBC themselves have come up with two completely different versions of what was said, not to mention all the other versions doing the rounds. Is this really what the BBC news team thinks is a scoop? Up to the usual low standards of BBC journalism.

  • 12.
  • At 05:24 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Jay Bee wrote:

It was obvious from the way Zidane reacted that Materazzi said something totally out of order. It's quite likely he had been making racist comments throughout the game and his final taunt was a step too far.

It's perfectly legitimate for journalists to try to get to the bottom of what happened; personally, I think FIFA should be doing the same.

Racism and other vicious personal comments are not rendered acceptable by a large pay packet!

  • 13.
  • At 05:35 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Host wrote:

PS. Our colleagues at Five Live, using similar methods, have come up with a slightly different translation. Read more here.

  • 14.
  • At 05:37 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

J.G: Perhaps they came up with the other version _before_ they came up with this one? How can the BBC be blamed for "all the other versions doing the rounds"?

  • 15.
  • At 05:43 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Humanist wrote:

I think it's important to remember that these players are human beings, not machines. If you provoke them, they'll react. I appreciate that ideally they'll rise above it, but history is full of examples of when people act like humans, and react instinctively.

"I will leave to your imagination what the sign language for 'go **** yourself' was..."

Did you have to wash his hands with soap or sprinkle cayenne pepper on them afterwards?

  • 17.
  • At 06:37 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • jemissi wrote:

does Zidane speak Italian then?

So far I have counted at least 7 different phrases that Materazzi 'said'. This reminds me of the Forest Gate raid when the Sunday papers each lead that the house contained a different sort of chemical. It seems to me that on issues where the key bit of info is missing the media's attitude is to 'If in doubt make it up.'.

  • 19.
  • At 09:06 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • J.G. wrote:

Ed, No 14
No, one part of the BBC came up with one version, and another part came up with a different version (see 13 above which was inserted when I pointed this out).

My statement still stands, the BBC think their lip-reading guesses are a great scoop because their standards are now so low.

  • 20.
  • At 09:11 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • J.G. wrote:

re No 13 by Host

You say that five live have come up with a "slightly different translation". lets compare the two:

Five live
"you're the son of a terrorist whore"

10 O'Clock news
"no...clam down...liar...[I wish] an ugly death to you and your family...Go f*** yourself"

Could you please explain to me how these two translations are SLIGHTLY different?!!

Great scoop, Pulitzer class I should think.

  • 21.
  • At 09:21 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Salim wrote:

to Jemissi >
For your information he's not British and many foreigners speak at least two languages.
I am Algerian and I speak Arabic, French, English, Italian and Spanish.

  • 22.
  • At 02:02 PM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • Jemissi wrote:

OK Salim, it was only a question! Actually, after I posted, I remembered he played for Juventus so I guess that answers my question - as long as his language skills at least match those of our dear Beckham! (see,,1818202,00.html%29

  • 23.
  • At 01:00 PM on 16 Jul 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Is there a difinitive version of what was said, or is it still guessing?


I thought he mouthed the words

" Do you know a good cure for hiccups?"

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