Now we know the truth.
Zinedine Zidane has apologised for the headbutt on Italy's Marco Materazzi which earned him a red card in Sunday's World Cup final penalty shoot-out loss.
But the France legend did not reveal what Materazzi said, only confirming that it was "very personal and concerned his mother and his sister".
In a French TV interview, Zidane, 34, said: "I want to ask for forgiveness from all the children who watched that.
"There was no excuse for it. I want to be open and honest about it."
Zidane was sent off for the headbutt to Materazzi's chest in the second period of extra-time in Sunday's final in Berlin.
His words contradict Materazzi's take on the incident, in which the Italian admitted making an insulting remark to the midfielder, but denied he made reference to Zidane's mother.
In Tuesday's edition of the Italian newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport, Materazzi said: "It was the kind of insult you will hear dozens of times and just slips out of the ground.
"I didn't call Zidane a terrorist and certainly didn't mention his mother."
Zidane, who was born and grew up in Marseille, is the son of Algerian immigrants and has suffered taunts about his heritage throughout his football career.
Zidane reacted to Materazzi's insult by headbutting the defender
But Materazzi added: "I am ignorant, I don't even know what an Islamic terrorist is; my only terrorist is her," he said pointing to his 10-month-old daughter.
"I did not bring up Zidane's mother; for me a mother is sacred."
After Materazzi's insult Zidane shoved his head into the Italian's chest and was sent off, with Italy going on to win the match 5-3 on penalties.
"I held his shirt, for only a few seconds," said Materazzi, who had scored Italy's equaliser after Zidane put France ahead from the penalty spot.
"He turned towards me and scoffed at me, looking at me with super arrogance, up and down.
"He said 'if you really want my shirt, you can have it later.'
"It's true, I shot back with an insult."
Fifa is to investigate Zidane's sending-off and the organisation's president Sepp Blatter has hinted that the France star could be stripped of his World Cup best player award.
Media organisations across Europe have been trying to decipher what Materazzi said to provoke such an extreme reaction from Zidane.
But it remains unclear exactly what was said and the BBC has broadcast two different versions.
BBC Radio Five Live asked for help from a deaf lip reader, Jessica Rees, who read the words phonetically to an Italian translator.
She deciphered the insult as being "you're the son of a terrorist whore" - a translation also carried by many national newspapers in Britain on Tuesday.
The BBC's Ten O'Clock News also called in experts to study the television footage of the incident and determined the following:
Materazzi's first word to Zidane was "no" before he then told him to "calm down".
He then accused him of being a "liar" and wished "an ugly death to you and your family" on the day the Frenchman's mother had been taken to hospital ill. This was followed by "Go f*** yourself".
Piara Powar, national co-ordinator for the anti-racism group Kick It Out told Five Live, said: "If there was a racial slur then Fifa needs to act."
London Bye Ta-Ta...
Truly puts the whole England coaching situation to shame. Despite being aware of Eriksson's departure for months in advance of the actual date, the English FA still managed to make an almighty balls-up of searching for a new coach, before finally - and somewhat regrettably - promoting the assistant to the main position.
Germany, on the other hand, have the decision sprung upon them, and react immediately by promoting their own assistant, handily by-passing the whole messy process.
Damn you, Brian Barwick.
I could stay if you asked me,
So for God's sake don't ask me to stay