Should FIFA throw the book at Maradona for outburst?
Argentina coach Diego Maradona will appear in person before a disciplinary hearing at FIFA headquarters on Sunday to explain his foul-mouthed outbursts (plural) following the win over Uruguay in Montevideo last month.
The result, at the very end of an 18-match campaign, finally clinched Argentina’s place at the 2010 World Cup after they had looked in serious danger of missing out for the first time since 1970. Maradona “celebrated” with an expletive-laden tirade at the hapless touchline reporter who went to interview him.
If he had left it at that, he could perhaps have passed it off as a heat of the moment incident. Instead, he spewed out more obscenities — which he says were aimed at the media — at the post-match press conference, broadcast live on a number of networks in several countries.
FIFA quickly caught on and opened disciplinary proceedings for his unruly behaviour. These could result in a stadium ban which, if applied only to competitive games, would effectively rule him out of part or possibly all of Argentina’s World Cup campaign.
Maradona would basically be restricted to organising training sessions (which so far under his leadership have resembled playground kickabouts) and giving motivational speeches at the team hotel to his players.
Maradona said he was angry at non-stop criticism of his coaching and team selections, reports that he has fallen out with his coaching staff and suggestions that he is not up to the job.
The criticism came after he used more than 70 players and lost World Cup qualifiers to Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Ecuador.
The Clarin newspaper also pointed out that when he was on the sidelines, Maradona was perfectly happy to publicly slag off his predecessors Marcelo Bielsa, Jose Pekerman and Alfio Basile.
Some media say they are tired of Maradona giving exclusive interviews to a few hand-picked chums and ignoring the rest, with the added insult that, when he does give a press conference, it is invariably cancelled or delayed.
What should FIFA do? And, if he is banned, should Argentina look for someone else who could actually coach the team from the dugout?
PHOTO: Argentina coach Diego Maradona celebrates after his team won its 2010 World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay in Montevideo October 14, 2009. REUTERS/Andres Stapff