Argentine football legend Diego Maradona welcomed the arrest of six FIFA executives by Swiss police in an interview with the Argentine Radio La Red on May 27.
“Stop these shady businesses, stop lying to people, stop throwing a dinner to re-elect Blatter,” Maradona said, referring to current FIFA head Sepp Blatter, who is seeking re-election. Blatter was not named in the indictment, but his re-election in 2011 is part of the United States-initiated corruption probe.
The US Department of Justice unsealed a 47-count indictment charging 14 top FIFA officials and sports marketers with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.
The accused are alleged to have taken part in a 24-year scheme involving hundreds of millions of dollars in bribery over sponsorship and broadcasting rights, tournament location selection, and vote-buying during FIFA elections.
Maradona said: “Spend all that money in an African football field, that’s what I play in four world cups for, others played five … For what? So children can still keep believing in this sport, in a ball, because with 22 kids play with a ball.”
He added that he found it unfair that FIFA could be a multi-billionaire organisation, while many football players did not earn mores than US$150.
“FIFA has no problem with taking money from people, from charging them more for a parking space, for a membership, with deciding whether or not you drink alcohol inside the stadium, it all depends on what’s more convenient for them,” Maradona said. “FIFA hates football and transparency.”
He said he had been “fighting to death” for a long time the irregularities of the FIFA, and expressed his satisfaction that his allegations were finally investigated. “They used to tell me I was crazy when I talked about the FIFA corrupted leaders.”
[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]