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Diego Maradona's outburst leads to FIFA hearing

Diego Maradona's profanity-filled tirade on live television after Argentina qualified for next year's World Cup will lead FIFA's disciplinary committee to open a case against the former great.

sports Updated: Oct 17, 2009 12:32 IST

Diego Maradona's profanity-filled tirade on live television after Argentina qualified for next year's World Cup will lead FIFA's disciplinary committee to open a case against the former great.

After Wednesday's 1-0 victory over Uruguay, Maradona used crude expletives on live television _ much of it directed at his critics and reporters.

"The reports we have received so far leave us no other alternative but to ask the disciplinary committee of FIFA to open a case against the coach Diego Armando Maradona," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Friday from the Under-20 World Cup. "As the president of FIFA it is my duty and my obligation to (refer) it to the disciplinary committee."

Blatter declined to further discuss the matter. "I don't comment," Blatter said. "It is now a matter of the FIFA jurisdiction to go into this matter."

Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title and the 1990 final, has been under intense pressure during Argentina's stuttering qualifying campaign, which included a 6-1 loss in Bolivia and a 3-1 loss to Brazil at home.

"The qualification of Argentina has been expected everywhere in the world," Blatter said. "Argentina is a powerhouse in football and always has been. Therefore, we welcome the team of Argentina." Although Argentina won its final two qualifying matches, both were scrappy wins with late goals. A draw against Uruguay would have been enough to claim a spot at next year's tournament in South Africa as one of the top four South American teams. Before the win over Uruguay, striker Martin Palermo scored three minutes into injury time to give Argentina a 2-1 victory over Peru. Before the victories, polls showed a majority of Argentina's fans thought Maradona was unfit to coach the national team despite his success as a player.

Even after the victories, an Internet poll by the newspaper La Nacion said 85 percent of 3,253 respondents wanted Maradona to quit as coach. In a similar poll by Clarin, 81.4 percent of 62,000 responding said AFA should reprimand Maradona for his outburst on television.

Maradona stood his ground in a radio interview late Thursday before Blatter made his announcement.

"(My comments were) a very big outburst after a week of many criticisms," Maradona said. "If someone feels wounded, I'll apologize if they want. And if not, I'm sorry."

However, later in his interview with Argentina's Radio Continental, he said: "I have nothing to apologize for." He called his media critics "anti-Argentine," saying he won't forgive them for wanting "Argentina to be left out of the World Cup."

Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona, who appointed Maradona, told The Associated Press on Friday that "if it were another coach or player, the matter would not have had such importance."

Grondona said "everybody knows he's a temperamental person and he's already said he won't speak like that again." Grondona is a FIFA vice president and a longtime ally of Blatter. He said he would discuss the issue with Blatter, but predicted Maradona's comments would soon blow over.

Grondona said the Argentine federation would meet on Tuesday over the matter. He declined to say whether he agreed with FIFA's decision to open a disciplinary case, with possible sanctions to follow.

Grondona also defended Maradona him in a radio interview on Thursday.

"You have to understand how Maradona is," Grondona said. "This does not justify his outburst, which he later said he regretted." Team leader and midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron criticized both Maradona and Grondona after Wednesday's victory.

"There's nothing to celebrate. From Grondona on down, it's all bad," Veron said. "We suffered, we hung in there and in the end we were able to win, but we have much room for improvement."