Diego Maradona is happy today. And he is “enjoying” the scandal surrounding the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, also known as FIFA, which exploded last night after the US Department of Justice indicted 14 of its top officials on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. As the US warns that this inquiry is “only the beginning”, Diego Maradona – who has traditionally been against FIFA – spoke on a local radio this morning.
Now, the audio is not that great (and Maradona is not always easy to understand, besides, he’s in Dubai) so in case you didn’t get much of what he said, here are some highlights.
- “FIFA has no problem with taking money from people, from charging them more for a parking space, for a membership, with decided whether or not you drink alcohol inside the stadium… it all depends on what’s more convenient for them. FIFA hates football and transparency. I’m not going to celebrate something that is still not over. If this case continues, be careful…”.
- “These guys never walked by a football, never had any respect for the ball that should serve as an example for kids. I’m 54 years old and I’ve been fighting with them to the death for a long time and everyone my age will agree. They said I was crazy when I talked about corrupt officials, when I asked for Julio Grondona’s bank accounts in the US to be investigated… They said I wanted to have him removed from his seat, but what I wanted was for them to stop stealing”.
- Regarding FIFA’s defense that they are willing to work with US officials: “The FIFA spokesman said they are the ones who called the investigation. Liars! Liars! This took them all by surprise”.
- “Stop these shady businesses, stop lying to people, stop throwing a dinner to reelect Blatter. Spend all that money in an African football field, that’s what I play in four world cups for, others played five… For what? So children can still keep believing in this sport, in a ball, because with 22 kids play with a ball”.
- On FIFA’s elections this Friday: “Blatter says he’s going to win, we have to see if he wins after this. We have to wait and see if he will be summoned for testimony in the US. (Jordanian prince Ali Bin Al Hussein) and I will take care of the bad guys, of those who only care about money”.
- On Blatter’s handling of accusations of corruption: “The president of FIFA shouldn’t send the spokesman to say they are the ones who called this investigation. They keep lying. Those who were dirty were always allowed to resign so they wouldn’t be investigated anymore. Whenever something happens, anywhere in the world, the justice system from that country automatically becomes useless. The only justice system that works is FIFA’s. How is that possible? Is it above presidents? Is it above democracies?”
Like him or not, he’s right this time.