Buenos Aires - Argentine football great Diego Maradona said on Wednesday he
wants to fight the "mafia" responsible for the corruption scandal
that has rocked FIFA, but he stopped short of saying he wants to be the next
president of global soccer's governing body.
"I have to fight the mafia that still remains inside FIFA. I have to
fight those who have for a long time stolen from inside FIFA," Maradona
told local television channel America.
Asked whether he would run for the FIFA presidency, the 54-year old replied
ambiguously: "I really want to be in FIFA."
In late May, federal prosecutors in New York indicted nine soccer officials,
most of whom held or had held FIFA positions, and five sports media and
promotions executives in schemes involving $150 million in bribes over a period
of 24 years. Prosecutors said their investigation exposed complex money
laundering schemes, millions of dollars in untaxed income and tens of millions
of dollars in offshore accounts held by the soccer officials.
Maradona has launched scathing attacks on the ruling elite of FIFA, and in
particular its head Sepp Blatter, who announced in June that he was quitting
over the bribery scandal.
Blatter was not charged by US justice officials and denies any misconduct.
Maradona has long accused Blatter of running FIFA like a criminal
organization and expressed delight in seeing US authorities hitting several of
FIFA's top former and current officials with corruption charges.
He used to bemoan that his warnings were being ignored.
"Now in my favour, I am walking in step with the yanquis,"
Maradona said in the interview, using Spanish-language slang for Americans.
"And these yanquis are serious," he added.
Maradona was one of soccer's most gifted players and led Argentina to a
World Cup victory in 1986. But his dazzling career was blighted in later years
by drug addiction, alcoholism and controversial incidents both on and off the