I come from America, land of the free and home of the best shit talkers in the world. If Zidane was a forward for the L.A. Clippers, he likely would face this kind of shit talk in every game, let alone the World Cup final. You think Ron Artest cares about your feelings or thinks talkin bout mommas is outta line? He once pulled a guys pants down in the middle of a game (not to mention the all-out brawl he started in Detroit a few years back). There's so much shit talking in NBA games that I bet once Kobe heard that France's best player was kicked out in the championship game for headbutting a guy he was like "Ah what'd the other guy do throw a punch first that the ref didn't see?" When he heard the actual reason he must have laughed his ass off. Costing your team the championship cause some Italian talked about your mom? Thats like ruining your career cause some Jersey Shore cast member was talking shit. And we haven't even talked about the amount of shit talk that goes on in the NFL. Thats a whole nother animal.
But maybe the problem lies in the nature of soccer. In football and basketball there are clear winners and loser on each play. If I pull a little slip n slide crossover and hit the j in someone's eye, I know I won and can then turn around and be like "Yea I fucked your mom last night! And she woke me up with a bj this morning!" If I'm an NFL receiver and I beat you down the middle for a thirty yard strike, I can get up and be like "Yea your mom made the best spaghetti last night for dinner! And she made even better eggs this morning for breakfast!" In soccer there are few goals scored every game and also few "oh shit" dribble skill moves. The only people who probably talk shit are the defenders (that is, until they get beat) which is dumb because like I said, so few goals are scored because its the nature of the sport, not a testament to the defenders. So maybe because there is no real place to talk shit in soccer, the players don't know how to handle it.
So here's how I think it went down. Materazzi (a defender) says to Zidane (a goal scorer) "Hey man you haven't gotten shit by me today!" (Zidane did score a goal in the game previous to the incident but it was on a penalty kick). Zidane fires back "Yea dumb shit neither have the other 10 guys on my team." Materazzi is stifled at this point because he realizes he is a dumb shit, so he says back "Yea well your mom wasn't calling me dumb shit last night...she was callin me THE shit!" And then boom. Headbutt. Red card. Win for Italy. Maybe there needs to be a shit talk class before the next World Cup (which is only a couple months away) to avoid any further incidents.