Maradona urges referees to crack down on foul play

Maradona urges referees to crack down on foul play

Published Jun. 11, 2010 3:33 p.m. ET

Diego Maradona urged referees to crack down on foul play on Friday to allow better football to be played at the World Cup.

Maradona said referees should ``know the meaning of'' fair play and apply it wisely, while FIFA's campaign to eliminate dirty play should be more than just a slogan.

``That's what we have to start with because we will see better football. We will see the stars we want and we are going to enjoy this World Cup,'' Maradona said. ``FIFA has to keep fair play very much in mind ... and the referees have to know the meaning of those words.''

Maradona, who scored the infamous ``Hand of God'' goal against England at the 1986 World Cup, was also the victim of frequent rough fouls during his career. He said fair play can be the basis for a great tournament, as stars will get a chance to shine.


``Those who don't want to play football should sit in the stands,'' Maradona said. ``Those who do want to play and who the people want to see play, should be able to do so without problems.''

Illustrating his point, Maradona recalled a vicious foul against him by Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

``Someone gave me a kick which nearly knocked my head off,'' Maradona said.

In that same tournament, Maradona lamented a disputed yellow card shown to teammate Claudio Caniggia for hand ball in the semifinals against Italy. It was Caniggia's second yellow card of the event and he was forced to miss the final, which Argentina lost to Germany.

``Compared to the Cameroon kick, (Caniggia) was Heidi,'' Maradona said.

Argentina opens its World Cup schedule versus Nigeria on Saturday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.