World Cup 2006: Tournament that saw the last of Zidane, Ronaldo | Football News

Zidane’s exit in the final after receiving a red card was his last in French colours.

Host: Germany
Teams: 32
Format: Group stage, KO
Matches: 64
Goals: 147
Winners: Italy
Finalists: France
golden boot: Miroslav Klose (Germany)


Germany hosted their first World Cup as a reunited nation after narrowly beating South Africa in the bidding process.

It was later discovered that the process itself had been fixed by members of the German Football Federation (DFB) who had bought votes from FIFA members.

Chief among the suspects was German legend and DFB bid chief Franz Beckenbauer. The investigation into the allegations was opened in 2016 but closed in 2021 without result as the statute of limitations expired after an amendment to FIFA rules in 2018.

On the pitch, the hosts made the perfect start to the tournament when Phillip Lahm scored in the fifth minute of the opening game win over Costa Rica. The Germans went on to win the two remaining group matches and their Round of 16 tie against Sweden without too much trouble.

In the semi-finals, they met the strength of future Italian champions.

Defending champions Brazil followed a similar course in the group stage, scoring seven goals and winning all three games. Their round of 16 match was against debutants Ghana, whom they beat 3-0. In the quarter-finals, they faced France who got there after a slow start.

The match was played on a free kick quickly taken by Thierry Henry, while the Brazilian Roberto Carlos was busy tying his shoelaces.

France and Italy met for the first time in the final of a World Cup. France’s 1998 hero Zinedine Zidane scored from a point in the seventh minute, but Italy quickly leveled with Marco Materazzi’s header in the 19th minute.

The match went into extra time and towards the end came one of the most bizarre moments in a World Cup final.

Zidane and Materazzi had a heated exchange, which was followed by some shirt tugging and Zidane headbutting Materazzi in the chest. The French star was expelled.

The penalty shootout saw a perfect five from Italy, giving them their fourth World Cup title.


It was one of the most-watched events in television history with an audience of 26.3 billion.

Serbia and Montenegro played as one team despite becoming two nations before the World Cup.

Africa had three debuting countries, of which Ghana qualified for the round of 16.


Brazilian Ronaldo played in his last World Cup, scoring three goals in the tournament.

The World Cup grabbed headlines for corruption allegations for years until the case was closed in 2021 by FIFA.

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