Overseas Football: Fifa refuse to ban Maradona

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(First Edition)

FIFA has dismissed Napoli's request for Diego Maradona to be suspended, after a dispute about transfer guarantees from his new club, Sevilla.

The international football federation said it had no reason to doubt that Sevilla would not pay the outstanding dollars 4.5m (pounds 3m) of the dollars 7.5m (pounds 5m) transfer deal and that there were no valid grounds to suspend Maradona, the former Argentine international.

Napoli had asked Fifa, through the Italian federation, to ban their former player from competing until guarantees for the outstanding fee had been deposited with a Italian bank.

David Will, the head of Fifa's legal committee, said Sevilla had offered guarantees with a leading Spanish bank in Zaragoza, and that was acceptable.

'Fifa's executive committee decided that with the European Community opening its doors next January to a free movement of finances there would be no problem, with Spain and Italy both being members, of the validity of such guarantees with the Spanish bank,' he said.

The first dollars 1.125 instalment of the outstanding fee is due on 31 March, with the rest payable in six-monthly intervals. Will said Fifa would intervene if there was any reason for Napoli to protest that the terms were not being met.

Fears of corruption in Italian matches because of the growing illegal betting industry were voiced yesterday by Arrigo Gattai, the Italian National Olympic Committee chairman.

Gattai wants to discuss the problem, along with his worries about racist taunts against black players and increasing violence in stadiums, with the Interior Minister, Nicola Mancino, and Antonio Matarrese, the head of the Italian football federation.

Underground betting syndicates operate in all the major football cities. 'I have heard that they deal in around 1,600bn lire (pounds 76m) a week,' Gattai said. 'If that is true then we have a lot to be worried about because any match could be bought.'

Dejan Savicevic, the former Yugoslav international, has changed his mind about wanting to leave Milan, because of the competition for places among foreign players at the Serie A leaders.

Savicevic will start tomorrow's match against Udinese following an injury to Frank Rijkaard, the Dutch international. Savicevic's last game was the 3-0 victory over Cagliari on 29 October.

Javier Clemente, the Spanish national coach, will be in London today to watch Tottenham Hotspur's Nayim play against Chelsea. The former Barcelona player, who was born in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in Morocco, has already appeared for Spain's Under-21 team.