Diego Maradona said Monday he cannot understand why Carlos Tevez appears likely to be left out of the Argentina squad for July's Copa America.
Maradona - who was coach of the national team between 2008 and 2010 - said on Argentine television channel America that he believes the Manchester City forward is being punished for missing a friendly against Brazil in Qatar last year.
Argentina won the match 1-0 with a goal from Lionel Messi.
''They punished Tevez for not presenting the scan or the opinion of the Manchester doctor for the match against Brazil,'' Maradona said.
Tevez, joint top scorer in the English Premier League with 20 goals, missed the match claiming he had an injury, but played a few days later for his club. Since then, Argentina coach Sergio Batista has not selected him.
''You can't doubt Tevez. Who else apart from (Gabriel) Batistuta scored goals like this?'' Maradona said. ''Tevez fights against orangutans (strong defenders) in the Premier League and beats them - and he's the top scorer. Why punish him if he's the people's player?''
Batista said he has no personal problems with Tevez, but has preferred to use forwards such as Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid.
Batista said it would be ''difficult'' for Tevez to break into the Copa America squad, but denied he had been discarded and said he might play in next season's World Cup qualifiers.