FIFA is to open a disciplinary investigation into Diego Maradona after the Argentinian coach's sexually-explicit, foul-mouthed rant following his team's qualification for the 2010 World Cup.
“We’ve been left with no other option than to open a disciplinary investigation into the Argentinian team coach,” said Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, football’s world ruling body.
Maradona rounded on his critics after Argentina’s 1-0 win over Uruguay on Wednesday, a victory which saw the two-time world champions squeeze nervously into next year’s finals in South Africa.
The 48-year-old, a sporting icon in Argentina after skippering the 1986 World Cup winning team, enjoyed a honeymoon period at the start of his coaching reign before the knives began to be sharpened.
He was widely pilloried for the record 6-1 World Cup qualifier defeat in Bolivia and his relationship with the country’s soccer-obsessed sports media never recovered.
Three more losses — against Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay — threatened to dump Argentina out of the World Cup picture for the first time since 1970.
And Maradona was in belligerent mood after the Uruguay match, telling journalists to “suck it and keep sucking it”, amid a torrent of other abuse.
Blatter, who was in Cairo for the final of the under-20 World Cup, warned that Maradona might have fallen foul of FIFA regulations which could result in a fine of up to $29,400 (approx. Rs. 13,60,000) and/or suspension.
“According to article 58.a, anyone who harms the dignity of a person through acts or words can be punished,” said Blatter.
“The case will go to the disciplinary committee and I cannot say anything else. It’s a matter of jurisdiction for this committee.”
Article 58.a states: “Anyone who offends the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, colour, language, religion or origin shall be suspended for at least five matches.
“Furthermore, a stadium ban and a fine of at least 20,000 Swiss francs (Rs 9, 08, 000) shall be imposed.”