Fifa has issued a stinging response to Diego Maradona’s claim that England committed a “monumental robbery” in their penalty shootout victory over Colombia, with the governing body saying it “strongly rebukes” the Argentine great’s comments.
Maradona could be seen cheering on Colombia inside the Spartak Stadium – complete in one of their jerseys – after Argentina were knocked out by France last Saturday. But his South American spirit appeared to get the better of him when he launched into a verbal tirade about referee Mark Geiger’s apparent favouritism towards the Three Lions.
"Here's a gentleman who decides, a referee who, if you Google him, shouldn't be given a match of this magnitude... Geiger, an American, what a coincidence," Maradona said on Venezuelan television.
"I'm just sorry for the whole Colombian people. I cheered Colombia's goal as if I had headed it myself."
His comments provoked a stern reaction from Fifa, who said that his words were “entirely inappropriate” and made them “extremely sorry” that a legend of the competition had made such accusations.
“Following comments made by Diego Armando Maradona in relation to yesterday’s round of 16 game, Colombia vs England, Fifa strongly rebukes the criticism of the performance of the match officials which it considers to have been positive in a tough and highly emotional match.
“Furthermore, it also considers the additional comments and insinuations made as being entirely inappropriate and completely unfounded. At a time when Fifa is doing everything within its power to ensure principles of fair play, integrity and respect are at the forefront of this World Cup and how the organisation is now run, Fifa is extremely sorry to read such declarations from a player who has written the history of our game.”
The stinging rebuttal comes as something of a surprise given that Maradona has been attending games in Russia as a VIP guest of Fifa’s, with the 57-year-old listed among the ‘Fifa Legends’ that have been invited to the World Cup.
However, it has also not gone unnoticed that Maradona has previous with England, with his infamous ‘Hand of God’ from the 1986 World Cup being referenced in response to his criticism.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies