Maradona attacks FIFA 'dinosaurs'

Jun 4 2011 - 6:43pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- 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 said 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 the other executives will cling to power as long as they can.

"Unfortunately in FIFA, we have a museum, a big museum," he said.

"They are dinosaurs who don't want to give up power," Maradona continued. "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 fixers.

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 has 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.

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