Maradona says nyet to Moscow media

MOSCOW - Diego Maradona's visit to Russia for a friendly got off on the wrong foot when the Argentina coach cancelled a news conference on Tuesday.

A large international media turnout was turned away from a hotel in the centre of Moscow after being told Maradona had no interest in meeting them.

"No, absolutely not," said Argentina media officer Andres Ventura when asked if Maradona would hold a news conference ahead of Wednesday's friendly against Russia at Moscow's Lokomotiv stadium.

Ventura blamed the Russian Football Association, which had announced the conference on its website, for the mix-up.

"They didn't tell us," he said.

However, the Russian FA blamed Argentina officials.

"We had the official confirmation from their delegation about Maradona's pre-match briefing," an FA spokeswoman told Reuters.

Asked if the media could watch the team training at the stadium later on Tuesday evening, Ventura replied: "Impossible, it's a closed session. We don't want any media even for the first 15 minutes".

Maradona had been unhappy about playing in Moscow, afraid some players might get injured ahead of next month's World Cup qualifier against Brazil.

"I don't like having to play Russia. We must prepare the team for Brazil but in the middle we've got this match that is of no use," Maradona told Argentine media last month.