Football: Maradona returns to work for television

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The Independent Online
DIEGO MARADONA started work as a World Cup commentator for Argentine television last night, three days after he was kicked out of the tournament for using banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Maradona, escorted by police and security guards, walked into Pasadena's Rose Bowl to the roaring approval of a largely Argentine section of the crowd about two minutes after kick-off of the second- round match between Argentina and Romania.

Accompanied by his wife, Maradona strode up to the television commentary area where he was working for Channel 13, part of the Artear group that has his country's World Cup rights. Fifa, the international governing body, announced earlier yesterday that it had given Maradona permission to work as a TV commentator for the rest of the World Cup.

'This doesn't look like the team I trained and played with,' Maradona told viewers. 'The players, especially the defenders, give the impression that they don't know their position on the pitch.'

Maradona, 33, was withdrawn from the Argentine team by his national association and suspended indefinitely from football by Fifa for using ephedrine, and related banned drugs. He announced his retirement as a player in an interview with the Argentine daily, Clarin, on Saturday. 'They killed me, just when I wanted to prove to my two daughters that I can play with 20-year-olds,' he said. 'Football is over for me for ever. I'm a former player now.'

However, Maradona could still return to international football, according to Joao Havelange, the Fifa president. 'I do not want to destroy Diego Maradona's career,' Havelange said yesterday. 'There will be a suspension, but it won't be 10 years.'

Fifa's World Cup committee could take further action against Maradona on 16 July, when they meet in Los Angeles on the eve of the World Cup final. 'I cannot say for sure if a decision will be made then, but Maradona's case will be discussed,' Havelange said.