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Zidane denies agreeing to Aussie exhibition match

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 May 2008

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Three-time world footballer of the year Zinedine Zidane on Friday denied that he had ever agreed to travel to Australia for an exhibition match.

Organisers had claimed that Zidane was due to lead a team featuring his French 1998 World Cup-winning teammates, including Marcel Desailly and Robert Pires, against an Australian All-Stars team on Sunday.

But the 35-year-old football star pulled out of his Australian visit on Thursday, citing personal reasons, a spokeswoman for the event said.

“Zinedine Zidane regrettably has had to cancel his upcoming Australian tour due to personal reasons, with a view of rescheduling at a later date,” event managers Octagon Sports Marketing said in a statement.

An Octagon spokeswoman said she believed many people would have sought refunds if the match had gone ahead without Zidane.

“It would be like going to see L.A. Galaxy without (David) Beckham,” she said.

Former France captain Zidane insisted however that he had never “definitively agreed” that he would participate.

Zidane arrived with other members of France’s 1998 squad in the French territory of New Caledonia on Wednesday, where they were expected to play in an exhibition on Saturday.

In a statement Zidane said that his “agreement (to compete in Sydney) was subject to contractual commitments which the organisers did not respect”.

And the France star warned that he was considering taking legal action “to prevent the abusive use of his name in the future by unscrupulous promoters to create media hype”.

Zidane retired in 2006 after a long and distinguished international career with France and at the club level with Real Madrid and Juventus.

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