road to south africa

Maradona stands firm on outburst at reporters

October 22, 2009

Argentina coach Diego Maradona has no regrets over the lewd outburst he aimed at reporters after his side sealed a dramatic victory over Uruguay last week to qualify for next year's World Cup finals.

The former national skipper let fly with insults at some Argentine journalists in the news conference that followed the 1-0 win, prompting FIFA to launch an investigation that could lead to a fine and suspension.

"I apologised to the ladies, not to those who talk about football on television... It was a release but I don't regret it," Maradona told the state TV station Canal 7 on Wednesday.

"After we qualified and I said what I said, everyone's offended... I said it during child protections hours," he said of the outburst following what he called ill-intentioned criticism of his team selection and perceived lack of tactical knowledge.

Argentina, who had qualified for the previous three World Cups with relative ease and not missed the finals since 1970, were in severe danger of not reaching South Africa following three defeats in a row between June and September.

"If we'd ended up out of the World Cup I'd have had to go and live in Haiti... The first man to be shot would have been Diego Armando Maradona."

He said the reason for the many team changes - calling up more than 70 players - in his 13 matches in charge since last November were for lack of form in some cases and (tactical) indiscipline in others.

"We got to the decisive matches (against Peru and Uruguay in October) with a lot of players from local (Argentine) teams who got us through," he said.

"I knew I'd have my revenge and so now that I'm in the World Cup I say to the (journalists) 'you were wrong guys'."

He said he now had the time to talk things through with leading players Juan Sebastian Veron, Javier Mascherano, Gabriel Heinze and Lionel Messi and Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona.

"Each player must show me and the coaching staff they can withstand a World Cup, which isn't easy. You have to withstand living together, injuries. We must build a good group who all help each other."