Maradona attacks FIFA ‘dinosaurs’
Corruption and match-fixing scandals that have undermined FIFA
will continue as long as the sport’s governing body is run by
”dinosaurs,” football great Diego Maradona claimed Saturday.
The Argentine, in Dubai to sign a two-year contract to coach
local Al Wasl club, said the sport’s governing body had been badly
run over the years. He attacked Wednesday’s re-election of
President Sepp Blatter ”who has never kicked a football” and what
he called the ”arrogance” of all its executives.
”When you have so much power, you can do so many stupid things
as is happening in FIFA,” Maradona said. ”Every day, there is
corruption, match fixing scandals. This is not football. We are not
talking about football here. This is not something that people who
watch football deserve.”
Maradona said it was ”no surprise” that Blatter was re-elected
to a fourth four-year term, saying the 75-year-old Swiss and other
executives will remain in office for as long as they can.
”Unfortunately in FIFA, we have a museum, a big museum,” he
”They are dinosaurs who don’t want to give up power,” Maradona
said. ”This Blatter being re-elected, that is not something
unique. People like us know what is going on.”
He did not elaborate.
Maradona is the latest big name player or football executive to
take aim at FIFA, which has seen its credibility damaged in recent
months by an unprecedented string of match-fixing cases and
corruption allegations swirling around the 2018 and ’22 World Cup
bids. It culminated last week when Blatter’s only challenger for
the presidency, Mohamed bin Hammam, withdrew from the race amid
bribery allegations which he denies.
Just as Maradona’s press conference was ending, FIFA announced
it was investigating Argentina’s 4-1 loss in Nigeria on Wednesday
after betting patterns suggested it was targeted by match
Maradona said it would be best for football if Blatter and other
FIFA executives – like his longtime opponent Julio Grondona,
president of the Argentine Football Association – resigned but
doubted it would ever happen.
”They are going to look after themselves, look after their
backs,” he said. ”They will stay until they are 105 and 110 and
football unfortunately will be the same.”
Maradona, 50, agreed last month to coach the little-known Al
Wasl club in the Gulf. He hasn’t coached since leading Argentina to
the World Cup quarterfinals last year.
Dressed in a black shirt and smiling at the crowd of nearly 100
reporters, Maradona insisted he had come to Dubai to work with the
goal of bringing the club a championship next year. Al Wasl
currently is tied for fourth place which means it can still qualify
for a spot in next year’s Asian Champions League.
The Dubai club has not provided any details of the contract and
Maradona denied reports he is being paid $10 million.
Maradona declined to name players he hopes to sign for the club,
only promising to focus on acquiring young talent with a desire to
win. He said he would not follow the lead of other Gulf clubs in
acquiring big name veterans because he didn’t want Al Wasl to
become ”a grave full of white elephants.”
Last year, another UAE club Al Ahli signed former Juventus
captain Fabio Cannavaro but he incurred several injuries and the
club has struggled.
”Today, I feel the same challenge, the same way as I felt when
I was coaching the national team,” said Maradona, who leads his
first match in September. ”If we work hard with a good team, we
can make history. This is something my players have to understand.
If someone doesn’t understand that, surely he will not play.”
Maradona was captain when Argentina won the 1986 World Cup in
Mexico, before retiring in 1997.
Before taking over as coach of Argentina in 2008, he had coached
only Deportivo Mandiyu in 1994 and Racing Club in 1995. In both
cases, he left before his contract was up.
Follow Michael Casey on Twitter at