Maradona faces five-match ban for outburst

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina coach Diego Maradona could be banned for several matches and fined for an obscenity-filled outburst at a news conference after Wednesday's World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay.

"We're now opening a disciplinary case against the Argentine coach and now it's up to the relevant party in FIFA - the FIFA disciplinary committee - to enforce it," a FIFA spokesman said on Friday.

He added that FIFA president Sepp Blatter, speaking in Cairo at the World Youth Cup, had announced the governing body's intention to open a disciplinary case against Maradona.

According to article 58 of FIFA's disciplinary code, the sanction could be for a minimum of five matches, prohibit Maradona stadium access for the duration of the suspension and include a fine of at least 20,000 Swiss francs ($19,720).

Maradona, relieved at Argentina's last-gasp qualification for the 2010 finals after a 1-0 win over Uruguay in Montevideo on Wednesday, used bad language when he hit out at critics who had questioned his coaching ability amid poor team performances.

His comments were broadcast live on several television stations.

Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona told the C5N cable TV channel: "On Tuesday we'll discuss this at the executive committee's meeting and see what we do."


Maradona has been heavily criticised for defeats against Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay that took twice world champions Argentina to the brink of failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1970.

He has called up more than 70 players for 13 matches - eight qualifiers and five friendlies - since he took charge a year ago, and been questioned for his team selections.

Argentina got back on track with a dramatic 2-1 win over Peru on Saturday when Martin Palermo, a surprise selection at the age of 35 and having not played for Argentina for 10 years, scored a last-gasp winner.

Maradona celebrated the victory in typically emotional style by hugging members of his coaching staff and players, having earlier dived in delight across the rain-sodden turf of the River Plate stadium in Buenos Aires after the winning goal.

His equally emotive celebration at the end of the Uruguay match, which sent Argentina to the finals in South Africa, took a bad turn in the media conference with Maradona's foul language in answer to some questions from Argentine reporters.