Maradona blames Blatter and his Fifa 'dinosaurs' for scandals

Fresh match-fixing allegations surface as Argentine legend slams game's international governing body

The irrepressible football legend Diego Maradona said yesterday that the corruption and match-fixing scandals blighting the game will continue for as long as Fifa, the game's international governing body, is run by "dinosaurs".

The Argentine, famous not only for his remarkable skills but also for a turbulent career that included one of the sport's most conspicuous acts of cheating, said Fifa had been badly run over the years. He also attacked last week's re-election of the Fifa's president, Sepp Blatter, whom he dismissed as a man "who has never kicked a football".

Maradona was speaking in Dubai, where he has signed a contract to manage a local club. He hasn't coached since leading Argentina to last summer's World Cup quarter-finals, but his country's standing in the game suggests that their 4-1 shock thrashing by Nigeria on Wednesday was, to put it mildly, out of character. Sure enough, Fifa yesterday announced it would be investigating the match after betting patterns suggested it was targeted by match-fixers.

It is the latest and highest-profile match yet to attract suspicion and "was one that we had an active interest in, and forms part of a wider ongoing Fifa investigation," it said from its Zurich base on Saturday. The organisation was "working closely" with its betting monitoring agency, Early Warning System, which tracks wagers placed with more than 400 operators.

Hours before the kick-off in Abuja on Wednesday, Fifa President Sepp Blatter launched his "Zero Tolerance" campaign to stop corruption in football. Fifa's 208 member nations also passed new rules to control the organisation of international matches, including the power to veto referee appointments.

Referee Ibrahim Chaibou of Niger awarded two penalties – one to each side – in Wednesday's game. Nigeria took a 2-0 lead with a 26th minute spot-kick. Five minutes of stoppage time was announced at the end of normal time in the match, with play continuing until the 98th minute when Argentina scored with another penalty kick from Mauro Boselli. There was no suggestion that players from either team were involved in manipulating the match result.

Fifa has hired former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigations agency to gather evidence following allegations that Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner offered $40,000 (£24,000) bribes to voters during the presidential campaign. Fifa's ethics committee will summon the two suspended senior officials to a full inquiry expected to be held next month.

Freeh's investigators will interview Caribbean Football Union officials who allegedly were offered bribes at a meeting in Warner's native Trinidad to back bin Hammam's Fifa presidential bid. Bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy last Sunday, hours before Fifa's ethics panel provisionally suspended him and Fifa vice-president Warner. They deny arranging bribes. Blatter, cleared by the ethics panel of turning a blind eye to intended corruption, was re-elected unopposed on Wednesday.

Blatter, it emerged last night, is likely to be among a large contingent of Fifa bosses set to receive some of the most sought-after tickets to events at the London Olympics, including the men's 100 metres sprint final.

The scandal at Fifa broke when Chuck Blazer, the US representative on Fifa's ruling panel, delivered a file of evidence including witness statements from four CFU member countries. Blazer has told the Associated Press that "much more evidence" would emerge.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003