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Maradona Complains After Missing Argentina’s Game

(Correct to show Argentina’s first game was June 15. See WCUP <GO> for World Cup news. See Bloomberg Sports analysis at BSPO <GO>.)

June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Diego Maradona led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986. That doesn’t mean he can expect special privileges at sport’s most-watched event.

The Argentine is working as a commentator for Venezula’s Telesur station, and took to the airways to complain that he couldn’t get in to Rio de Janeiro’s stadium to watch his nation’s opener against Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 15.

“I was not allowed to go in to the game,” Maradona told the Argentinian channel TyC Sports. “So I had to return to the hotel to see the second half. I did everything I could, but they would not let us in.”

Maradona didn’t clarify whether he had tickets for the game. As a journalist he’s allowed to enter media facilities, which doesn’t guarantee a seat in the stadium.

“As long as he’s going in with the right media access there shouldn’t be a problem,” FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fisher told reporters in Rio today. “Maybe he went somewhere where he didn’t have the necessary access, but we have no record of it. We’ve not received anything from him or anybody else.”

Maradona, 53, is considered among the best to have played the game. He was captain when Argentina won its second World Cup in 1986. He’s been a controversial figure throughout his time on and off the field.

Hand of God

During that 1986 World Cup campaign, Maradona scored a goal with his hand against England in the quarterfinal -- a shot dubbed the “Hand of God” after he claimed divine intervention. He was the last player to be expelled from a World Cup for a doping offense, testing positive for five different banned substances at the 1994 tournament in the U.S.

Since then he’s gotten treatment for alcohol and drug problems, including therapies in Havana after being invited there by ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Maradona coached Argentina at the last World Cup in South Africa.

“It is one thing to not be able to go to a game, and another to not be allowed to go,” Maradona said. “When there is goodwill, you’re allowed in but when there is ill will, it’s better to forget it and head back to the hotel, which it’s what we did.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at tpanja@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net Michael Sillup

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