(WFI) Diego Maradona has accused FIFA president Sepp Blatter of exacting “a lot of damage” on football and says the Swiss is “scared.”
The 1986 World Cup-winning captain was speaking at the Soccerex Asian Forum at the Dead Sea Resort in Jordan on Monday.
Blatter is seeking a fifth term in office at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29. He will be challenged by Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan, Michael van Praag of the Netherlands and former Portugal international Luis Figo.
But it was Prince Ali, who officially invited Maradona, that got the glittering backing of the football legend.
“If I didn’t believe that he [Prince Ali] would be a good president, I wouldn’t be here” he said.
“As the football world knows, inside FIFA there is total anarchy, where there is only one man [Blatter] who decides everything. But he knows absolutely nothing. Therefore, it is time for a change. And it is so because even his colleagues should actually advise him to leave.
“He has done a lot of damage to football since he has been there. It’s time for him to step aside and let us, who are full of strength, renovate football.
“Because football is becoming poorer and more corrupt.”
The Argentinean’s criticism will certainly sting the current president just weeks away from the vote. FIFA has faced numerous allegations of corruption over the years, especially under Blatter’s leadership.
The most recent controversy was over the awarding of the hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively – which was investigated by FBI prosecutor Michael Garcia but his final report was not initially published to much criticism.
However, since then, the FIFA executive committee agreed that a redacted version of Garcia’s report could be made public.
Maradona though is no stranger to controversy having been infamously sent home from the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the U.S. after testing positive for ephedrine.
When it came to discussing the Qatar World Cup in 2022, the former Napoli star continued his Blatter attack.
He said: “First we didn’t know where the World Cup was going to be held. Then we found out after Brazil it was Russia and then Qatar. Without any doubt whatsoever Blatter is scared. Blatter is scared. He’s scared of being left out of his share of the cake.
“That is what really annoys someone like me, who has played in four World Cups. I was chasing the ball. Blatter is chasing champagne.”
Maradona was the star guest of the conference, pulling in throngs of spectators to watch his interview, which closed the event.
By INSIDER reporter Christian Radnedge in Jordan
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