Maradona warns he may leave UAE club
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)
Diego Maradona warned the owners at Al Wasl on Tuesday that he may not return to coach the team next season if it doesn't buy the kind of players that would allow him to compete for the league title.
The Argentine football great complained at a press conference that the United Arab Emirates club didn't bring in enough quality players during the recent January transfer window. It signed two foreign players - Mohammad-Reza Khalatbari of Iran and Juan Ignacio Mercier of Argentina - but Maradona said he had wanted to sign several others as well, without providing names.
''It was a restrictive budget and did not allow us to sign players we had in mind,'' Maradona said through a club translator. ''I would like everyone to know, especially the fans, that next season I will not accept a small budget. We need a big budget that will allow us to sign players that will give us a boost. ... If this will not happen, I will not be able to do my job. I will not be able to continue.''
Maradona's criticism is the latest sign that he is growing tired of his lucrative coaching job in the conservative Gulf nation.
Since arriving on a two-year contract in May, Maradona has taken aim at referees he called biased, questioned the professionalism of some players in the league and was fined by the league for verbally abusing a rival coach.
Along with criticizing management Tuesday, he opened the news conference by accusing security staff of allowing people to watch a closed practice earlier in the day. He said he ''couldn't do his job'' if his instructions weren't followed and called for those responsible to be fired.
Maradona's frustration is partly due to the team's disappointing performances thus far.
The arrival of the 1986 World Cup-winning Argentine was expected to elevate the club back to the top. Instead, it sits in fifth place, nine points behind league leader Al Ain. It also has been knocked out of several cup competitions and Maradona has already conceded the club has little chance of picking up any silverware this season.
Maradona coached Argentina to the 2008 World Cup quarterfinals in South Africa. He was fired after the World Cup and was linked to several clubs before accepting the Al Wasl offer.
The sports club is chaired by Sheik Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a brother of the Dubai ruler. Al Wasl is considered one of the top clubs in Dubai but hasn't won anything since 2007.
The hiring of Maradona surprised the footballing world and he justified it by saying the club offered ''good money.'' And even as he complained about the budget Tuesday, he insisted he remained ''happy'' at the club.