Maradona to face FIFA over profane rants at media

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Argentina coach Diego Maradona will face a FIFA disciplinary panel on Sunday which has the power to ban him from matches at next year's World Cup.

Updated: November 15, 2009 11:34 IST
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Zurich :

Argentina coach Diego Maradona will face a FIFA disciplinary panel on Sunday which has the power to ban him from matches at next year's World Cup.

Maradona has been summoned to the headquarters of football's world governing body to explain his expletive-filled rants aimed at the Argentine media in a post-match press conference minutes after his team clinched its passage to the finals in South Africa last month.

Under Article 58 of FIFA's discipline code, the panel must ban Maradona from stadiums for at least five matches if it finds he "(offended) the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words."

The 1986 World Cup-winning captain would be sidelined until after the quarterfinals stage if a ban applies to competitive matches instead of friendlies.

However, Maradona could be judged by Article 57 relating to "offensive gestures or language," and receive a simple warning or reprimand.

"Much worse things have been said and there are people who do terrible things in football, but ... I said what I said and that's where things stand," Maradona said in Spanish sports daily Marca on Saturday.

"Sunday I will say what I have to say to FIFA and that'll be it."

The 49-year-old coach, an iconic figure in his home country, is supported by the Argentina Football Association and its longtime president Julio Grondona.

Grondona, who also serves as FIFA's senior vice president, implied that Maradona is being singled out because of his status as one of football's all-time greats.

"If it were another coach or player, the matter would not have had such importance," Grondona told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

The AFA has filed a statement to FIFA blaming Maradona's tirades on tough questions from reporters before the decisive qualifying match in Uruguay, which Argentina won 1-0.

Maradona has had a tense relationship with the media since taking over the national team one year ago at Grondona's invitation.

At the time of Maradona's appointment, Argentina was midway through a qualifying campaign which threatened to leave the two-time champion missing the finals for the first time since 1970.

His team lost four of its next six matches - including an embarrassing 6-1 defeat in Bolivia and a 3-1 home loss to archrival Brazil - before getting late winning goals in its final two qualifiers to clinch qualification.

Maradona attacked his critics in a touchline interview and at the official post-match press conference in Montevideo. He accused the Argentine media of treating him "like garbage."

Maradona will arrive in Zurich after coaching Argentina in a friendly against European champion Spain in Madrid on Saturday.

His case will be heard by a select group of officials from FIFA's 17-member Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Swiss lawyer Marcel Mathier.

The panel can consider Maradona's evidence in person, written statements and video footage of the post-match interviews.

Maradona has previously been excluded by FIFA from a World Cup.

As a player, he was sent home from the 1994 finals in the United States after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, including the banned stimulant ephedrine.

It was his fourth tournament, having inspired Argentina to victory in 1986 and to the final four years later.

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