Maradona branded traitor by beloved Boca fans

BUENOS AIRES - Being labelled a traitor by fans of his favourite club Boca Juniors had been deeply upsetting, Argentina coach Diego Maradona said on Wednesday.

"It hurt me in the soul that they have branded me a traitor but I can't do anything about it," he told Radio Mitre.

The insults followed Boca playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme's decision last week to quit the Argentine national side, saying that he could not work with the coach. Riquelme was upset that Maradona made public comments about his playing style.

Before Sunday's game with Argentinos Juniors, Boca fans gave Riquelme a rapturous ovation and some banners described Maradona, who has always been treated as a hero at the club, as a traitor.

"I don't blame the supporters, they have the right to support whoever they want," said Maradona.

"I can't do absolutely anything about it apart from continuing on my way.

"I've explained that I wanted Riquelme in my team but they have seen it the way they choose to see it."

Maradona, who has his own box at the Bombonera stadium, said he would return to the arena and was not bitter with the supporters.

"Of course, I'll return. The last thing I would do in my life would be to get angry with the Boca public."