A slap on the wrist for his obscene gesture during Nigeria’s 2-1 loss to Argentina at the World Cup and a talk down for his “Monumental Robbery” comment after Colombia’s penalty shootout fail against England, FIFA have been condoning football Legend, Diego Maradona.
Maradona, who played against Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup and Coached the Albiceleste in 2010 against the Super Eagles, earned £10,000 for his appearance at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg.
The Argentine football God, flashed the middle fingers – purportedly – at Nigerian fans and the players after Marcos Rojo’s 86th minute winner in the final group game.
His shameful behavior, caught on camera and beamed to over 200million viewers across Africa, earned him £10,000 as a FIFA ambassador, but a little less than a reprimand by the world governing body.
FIFA’s World Cup chief executive Colin Smith said that the former Argentine star was a valued part of its legends programme to promote the game.
“The players who helped write the history of football have a part to play,” Smith said. “Diego Maradona, obviously one of the greatest footballers who ever lived, is a part of that.”
“We would expect all players, former players, staff, fans, everyone to behave in a respectful manner.”
But the Argentine, obviously, wasn’t done with the drama and after Tuesday’s round of 16 clash between Colombia and England, the 57-year-old told Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur that, ‘I saw a monumental theft. I apologise to all the Colombian people, but they must know the players are not to blame.
‘It is the man who decides who the referee is who is to blame. A man like that (Geiger) should not be put in charge of a game of that magnitude.
‘With all due respect, Pierluigi Collina, as the man who designates the referees, he is very bad. He must apologise to the Colombian people.’
Maradona continued: ‘I told (FIFA president) Gianni Infantino that if I worked for FIFA I would change everything. It has to be transparent. That’s why I didn’t go there.
‘The referee will know a lot about baseball, but he has no idea about football. The Colombian players asked for VAR and he did not give it to them.
‘Twice the English threw themselves to the ground and he did not admonish them. This was theft.’
In a stronger tone than he was criticized over the middle finger shame, FIFA said Maradona’s ‘insinuations’ about Referee Geiger, were ‘entirely inappropriate and completely unfounded.’
‘At a time when FIFA is doing everything within its power to ensure principles of fair play, integrity and respect are at the forefront of this World Cup and how the organisation is now run, FIFA is extremely sorry to read such declarations from a player who has written the history of our game,’ the governing body added in a statement.