A meaningless two month suspension and a fine of $25,000.00.
It’s always good to have friends in high places.
Argentina coach Diego Maradona banned for two months by Fifa
• Argentina’s World Cup preparations disrupted
• Coach apologises for rant against journalists
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 15 November 2009
Just when Argentina thought it was safe finally to prepare for the World Cup, their coach, Diego Maradona, was banned from football for two months last night. An often surreal, intensely controversial and deeply troubling year will draw to a close with no manager on the bench and a shadow hanging over the troubled national team who were defeated 2-1 here on Saturday by Spain.
The ban was handed down by Fifa in Zurich following a three-hour meeting tonight and a 40-minute appearance from Maradona himself. The world governing body said that it had taken into consideration Maradona’s apologies and “sincere regret” but the subsequent ban was still more severe than had been expected. Maradona will not be allowed to have any formal involvement in football until 15 January 2010 – less than six months before the start of the World Cup. He was also fined 25,000 Swiss francs (£15,000).
The punishment follows Maradona’s remarks after Argentina reached the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Uruguay in their final qualifying match on 14 October. He told journalists they “take it up the arse”, grabbed his crotch and insisted the world’s media should “suck it and keep on sucking”. Fifa punished him according to Article 57, which relates to “offensive gestures or language”. He has been warned a repeat will lead to even stronger sanctions.
The Argentinian Football Association is expected to stand by the coach but no appeal is expected. Julio Grondona, the president of the AFA, is also vice-president of Fifa and was aware of the deliberations being made by football’s governing body. In view of his coming in for severe criticism himself, it suits him for the media to focus more on the national team’s coach than their president. Maradona is also a hugely lucrative draw, if not a particularly successful man, to have in charge.
Maradona’s assistant, Alejandro Mancuso, will take charge when Argentina face the Catalonia “national” team in a prospective friendly on 22 December in Barcelona and will also assume control if a proposed friendly against the Czech Republic is confirmed for 16 December. Maradona will be back in charge by the time the next formal international break comes round in March.
Despite boasting arguably the world’s best player in Lionel Messi, Maradona’s time in charge of the Argentina has been a largely disastrous one. He fell out with Juan Román Riquelme, despite once naming him as his footballing successor – something he also did with Javier Saviola, Pablo Aimar and Messi – and the playmaker has refused to return to the squad. Maradona has used 78 players since taking charge just over a year ago.
Maradona’s relationship with Carlos Bilardo, his coach at Mexico 86, also soured. Bilardo was employed as technical director to provide support for Maradona, only for the coach to demand he spend games in the stands “with a suit and tie on”. In the relieved aftermath of the win over Uruguay, with emotions running high, the pair embraced and appeared to have settled their differences. But Maradona has continued to say he wants complete control over all footballing decisions.
Fifa’s officials had to decide if Maradona had breached Article 58 of Fifa’s discipline code by “[offending] the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words”. That offence carries a mandatory five-match stadium ban which, if applied to competitive matches, would have sidelined him until after the World Cup quarter-finals stage. However, Maradona was judged by Article 57 relating to “offensive gestures or language”.