Maradona offers his support to Luis Suarez

The Argentine critised the ‘Fifa mafia’ for their decision to impose a four month ban on the player

 Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona during the FIFA World Cup 2014 group F preliminary round match between Argentina and Iran. Photograph: Ballesteros/Epa

Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona during the FIFA World Cup 2014 group F preliminary round match between Argentina and Iran. Photograph: Ballesteros/Epa

 

Diego Maradona has criticised the “Fifa mafia” following the decision by the game’s global governing body to impose a four-month ban on Luis Suarez for biting an opponent during the World Cup.

Maradona, who was handed a 15-month ban from football during the 1994 World Cup for testing positive for the banned stimulant ephedrine, declared his unconditional support for the controversial Uruguayan on his television show ‘De Zurda’ .

Suarez bit defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy on Tuesday. The Uruguayan federation (AUF) is preparing an appeal against the punishment, which also bars him from playing in his country’s next nine competitive internationals

“The Fifa sanction is shameful, they have no sensitivity towards the fans, they might as well handcuff him and throw him in Guantanamo,” said Maradona, who during the programme wore a T-shirt bearing the message ‘Luis, we are with you’.

“The sanction on Luis is a way of punishing Uruguayan clubs for asking CONMEBOL (the South American confederation) for a fairer share of money. It hurts that they have cut short the career of a lad who is a winner. It’s an excessive suspension, Fifa cannot talk about morals to anyone.”

The former Barcelona, Napoli and Boca Juniors forward added: “Suarez didn’t kill anyone. This is an unjust punishment, the act of an incredible mafia.”

Maradona also spoke to Uruguay’s president Jose Mujica, who was waiting for Suarez at Montevideo airport, via video link.

Egged on by the former Argentina forward, Mujica suggested Fifa was punishing Suarez for reasons other than the aggression against Chiellini, which is the third time in his career he has bitten an opponent.

“We feel that this is an assault on the poor because this gang will never forgive him because he never went to university, he isn’t educated, he grew up on the field, and he is a natural rebel and expresses his anger naturally,” said the president.

Maradona added in agreement: “In this World Cup there have been much greater incidents than Suarez’s (bite) on Chiellini.”

Mujica responded: “There’s no doubt about that, because we have seen all the games and this is a different punishment. This is the most indignant punishment.

“Here they add everything together but the boy really shouldn’t be blamed for his reaction. It’s a match and these things happen and then there’s no need to look into every incident, because if we did that in every game we’d be playing five-a-side.”

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