Maradona missed match after ticket row

July 1, 2006

BERLIN, July 1 (Reuters) - Diego Maradona was not in Berlin's Olympiastadion to see Argentina's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Germany because a member of his entourage was not allowed in.

World soccer's governing body said the iconic former captain had been given four VIP tickets for the match, which Argentina lost on penalties, but wanted to bring in a fifth person whom FIFA had already declared was not welcome.

'It has been reported that Diego Maradona arrived at the stadium and then left again because not all of his entourage was allowed in,' FIFA spokesman Markus Siegler said.

'This was the decision of Diego Maradona alone,' Siegler said at FIFA's daily World Cup news briefing.

Siegler said FIFA had been touch with Maradona and the Spanish television station he is working for before the game.

'Maradona's delegation was told in advance that one particular person would not get a ticket because this person has been rude repeatedly during the World Cup and even became almost physically aggressive,' he said.

'We're sorry if Diego Maradona didn't want to accept that. He and a certain number of companions are welcome at any time,' he added.

Siegler declined to identify the person FIFA had decided to exclude.

One of the game's greatest ever players, the 1986 World Cup winner has been an enthusiastic and high-profile supporter of the Argentine team in Germany.

'We've always had tickets for Diego Maradona, even if it was difficult sometimes because he just turned up. We always found a solution for him,' Siegler said.

'The problem yesterday was that one person was not on the list of names but wanted to come in.'