WORLD CUP 2018 FIFA re­bukes Maradona for crit­i­ciz­ing tour­na­ment ref­eree

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World Cup Daily -

FIFA’S pa­tience with Diego Maradona’s World Cup an­tics fi­nally ran out on Wed­nes­day.

Soc­cer’s world body said it “strongly re­bukes” com­ments by the Ar­gentina great crit­i­ciz­ing Amer­i­can ref­eree Mark Geiger’s han­dling of Eng­land’s win against Colom­bia in the World Cup round of 16.

It was yet an­other con­tro­ver­sial mo­ment in­volv­ing Maradona —an of­fi­cial FIFA am­bas­sador and fig­ure­head of its “Leg­ends” pro­gram cel­e­brat­ing for­mer play­ers — at a World Cup he has mostly at­tended as a VIP guest of FIFA.

FIFA hit back at Maradona for telling Venezue­lan broad­caster Te­lesur the out­come of Tues­day’s game in Moscow was a “mon­u­men­tal theft.”

Maradona had been pho­tographed be­fore the game wear­ing a yel­low Colom­bia jer­sey.

Eng­land ad­vanced to the quar­ter­fi­nals in a penalty shootout af­ter a 1-1 draw in a feisty game slowed by stop­pages and play­ers ar­gu­ing with Geiger, a for­mer high school teacher from New Jer­sey.

FIFA said Maradona’s “in­sin­u­a­tions” were “en­tirely in­ap­pro­pri­ate and com­pletely un­founded.”

“FIFA is ex­tremely sorry to read such dec­la­ra­tions from a player who has writ­ten the his­tory of our game,” it said in a state­ment.

FIFA had tol­er­ated pre­vi­ous in­ci­dents by Maradona at games in Rus­sia, which the 1986 World Cup win­ning cap­tain was left to ex­plain on his Face­book page.

He apol­o­gized for mak­ing an of­fen­sive ges­ture to­ward a South Korean fan at Ar­gentina’s open­ing 1-1 draw with Ice­land in Moscow. He then sug­gested me­dia were try­ing to make head­lines from an innocent in­ci­dent and also broke World Cup sta­dium rules by smok­ing a cigar.

Maradona was filmed on FIFA’S of­fi­cial television broad­cast ag­gres­sively rais­ing his mid­dle fin­gers af­ter Ar­gentina scored a late win­ning goal against Nige­ria in St. Peters­burg.

He was also seen on footage cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia seem­ing to be un­well and as­sisted from his seat into a pri­vate din­ing area.

FIFA has had a tur­bu­lent re­la­tion­ship with Maradona in his ca­reer as a player and coach.

He tested pos­i­tive for a cock­tail of banned sub­stances at the 1994 World Cup in the United States and was sent home from the tour­na­ment.

As Ar­gentina’s coach in 2009, a FIFA sus­pen­sion for a tirade aimed at re­porters af­ter a World Cup qual­i­fy­ing game barred Maradona from at­tend­ing the 2010 fi­nals draw in Cape Town, South Africa.

Maradona was an out­spo­ken critic of pre­vi­ous FIFA pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter, but was brought back into the fold when Gianni In­fantino was elected in 2016.

He came to the Krem­lin in Moscow last De­cem­ber wear­ing a gold bow tie to take part in the 2018 draw. – AP

Ar­gen­tinian soc­cer leg­end Diego Ar­mando Maradona waves to vis­i­tors dur­ing the round of 16 match between France and Ar­gentina on Satur­day. Photo: AP

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