Buenos Aires, May 28: Argentina's World Cup-winning captain Diego Maradona applauded the arrest of top FIFA officials in an anti-corruption sting, and warned that Sepp Blatter, the president of world football's governing body, may be next. [Putin lashes out at US: FIFA a Cold War platform now?]
Maradona said he was "enjoying" the news of the arrest of seven officials, including two FIFA vice-presidents, in a dawn raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich. They face deportation to the United States on charges of accepting more than $150 million in bribes, and the outspoken former star said Blatter could follow in their footsteps. ['FIFA thoroughly corrupt, Blatter should resign now']
"Watch out, Blatter may have to go the United States to explain himself. They've been after him for 10 years," he told Buenos Aires radio station La Red. The crackdown came two days before Blatter seeks a fifth term as the head of the multi-billion-dollar organization.
Maradona has a long history of scathing attacks on Blatter dating back to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, when he protested the decision to schedule matches in the midday heat.
He has lobbied against Blatter's bid for a new term as FIFA president, writing in the Telegraph this week that he had become a "dictator for life" and the organization "a playground for the corrupt." "I have been saying this for a long time. They said I was crazy. Today the FBI spoke the truth," he said Wednesday.
"We'll have to see if Blatter wins after this. The Americans did an impeccable job," he added. Maradona, 54, was considered the greatest player of his day, playing in four World Cups and leading Argentina to victory in 1986.