Maradona apologises over referee slur

Diego Maradona (AP)
Diego Maradona (AP)

Moscow - Diego Maradona has apologised for questioning the impartiality of the referee in charge of England's last-16 penalty shootout win over Colombia.

The Argentina legend had landed himself in hot water with FIFA over his outburst at US official Mark Geiger when he described England's win on Tuesday as a "monumental robbery".

READ: FIFA condemns Maradona comments

But after a firm rebuke by football's governing body the 1986 World Cup winner issued a mea culpa on Instagram.

"Caught up by the excitement and support for Colombia the other day, I said some things that, I admit, are unacceptable.

"My apologies to FIFA and its president (Gianni Infantino): even if sometimes my opinions are different to those of the referees I have total respect for their work."

He admitted that "although I sometimes have opinions contrary to those of referees, I have absolute respect for the work - not easy - which (FIFA) and the referees do."

Maradona, who had come out in support of Colombia following Argentina's premature elimination, blamed Geiger for the South American side's loss in an ill-tempered affair.

He had told Venezuelan TV channel Telesur: "I apologise to all the Colombian people, but the players are not to blame.

"Here is a gentleman (FIFA referees boss Pierluigi Collina) who decides to choose a referee who, if he had Googled him, (he would know) can't be used for a match of this magnitude."

Geiger was suspended from international football for six months after several controversial decisions during a 2015 Gold Cup semi-final between Panama and Mexico.

Maradona had attended the Colombia v England match as a guest of FIFA and was pictured before the game in Moscow wearing a Colombia shirt.

FIFA had responded, saying it was "extremely sorry" to read the comments from "a player who has written the history of our game".

It added: "Furthermore, it also considers the additional comments and insinuations made as being entirely inappropriate and completely unfounded."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Rugby
42% - 9966 votes
Cricket
11% - 2673 votes
Football
19% - 4507 votes
Athletics
2% - 591 votes
Boxing
1% - 223 votes
Cycling
2% - 550 votes
Golf
5% - 1175 votes
Motorsport
8% - 1993 votes
Tennis
3% - 804 votes
Water sports
1% - 212 votes
American sports
1% - 296 votes
MMA / WWE / UFC
3% - 765 votes
Vote