FIFA 'strongly rebukes' Maradona after soccer legend accuses World Cup officials of match fixing

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Diego Maradona showed some continental pride on Tuesday, sporting a Colombia jersey during the team’s World Cup elimination match with England.

Maradona says Colombia-England match was fixed

When England won on a penalty shootout that was as marred by fouls and yellow cards as much as it was a thriller, the Argentinian soccer legend ripped into officials, accusing them of match fixing. Maradona called the game a “monumental theft”  in an interview with Venezuelan TV station Telesur.

“The penalty was not a penalty — it was a foul by [Harry] Kane,” Maradona said via ESPN translation, referring to a penalty that set up England’s second-half goal. “Why didn’t he use VAR? I’m reeling because when I spoke to [FIFA president Gianni] Infantino the first time, everything had changed at FIFA: the thieves had left, the fixes, everything.

“And today I saw a monumental robbery on the pitch. I apologize to the Colombian people, but the players are not to blame as we don’t choose the referees. The referees are chosen by [Pierluigi] Collina, who was appointed by Infantino to change the new FIFA from thieves and fixers, and today we saw the opposite — an old and fixed FIFA.”

FIFA blasts back at Maradona

On Wednesday, FIFA shot back at Maradona, an official FIFA ambassador and VIP guest of FIFA at the World Cup.

“FIFA is extremely sorry to read such declarations from a player who has written the history of our game,” a statement read

FIFA “strongly rebukes” Maradona’s comments and continued that his ”insinuations” were ”entirely inappropriate and completely unfounded.” 

Diego Maradona made World Cup waves again by accusing officials of match fixing, this time drawing a rebuke from FIFA. (AP)
Diego Maradona made World Cup waves again by accusing officials of match fixing, this time drawing a rebuke from FIFA. (AP)

Maradona wasn’t only one mad about officials

Maradona’s accusations echoed those of Colombia forward Radamel Falcao, who accused American referee Mark Geiger of having a bias toward England in the game that saw 23 of 36 fouls called and six of eight yellow cards against Colombia.

“I found it peculiar that they put an American referee in this instance,” Falcao said. “To tell you the truth, the process leaves a lot of doubts. He only spoke English, some bias was certain. Through small calls, he was pushing us [toward] our goal, that was clear for me.”

Maradona has been a long-time critic of FIFA, but was brought back into the fold by Infantino when he replaced the scandal-ridden Sepp Blatter as president in 2016. 

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