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'Horrible' ref helped Spain

2010-07-03 09:57
Diego Maradona (AP)

Cape Town - Argentina coach Diego Maradona lashed out at Soccer World Cup referees on Friday, saying that Germany and Spain have benefited from "horrible" officiating to reach the quarter-finals.

Spain's goal in the 1-0 win over Portugal in the round of 16 should have been ruled offside by Argentine referee Hector Baldassi, Maradona said. He also disputed the red card shown to Portugal defender Ricardo Costa and said "every contested situation went Spain's way."

"I'm a good friend of Baldassi, we talk all the time, but my impression is that the refereeing was horrible," Maradona said.

"Baldassi was very bad. And the linesman was Andrea Bocelli," he said, referring to the blind Italian tenor, who will perform at a FIFA-endorsed concert to mark the end of the World Cup.

Maradona also blasted Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda, who failed to award England a goal in its 4-1 loss to Germany, Argentina's next opponent.

"I don't know if it was revenge or not, but England's goal the other day was very clear," Maradona said. "As it was also clear that the goal that the linesman gave England against Germany in '66, it's not that it hit the line, it hit outside (the line) altogether."

Maradona was recalling a disputed England goal from the 1966 World Cup final between England and Germany, when Geoff Hurst's shot struck the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and spun back into play.

Maradona was in his usual good form at the news conference in Cape Town, alternately joking with reporters and ridiculing them.

Asked by a Portuguese reporter how he would react whether one of his star players asked for advice during a game, Maradona said he would call magician David Copperfield.

He turned serious when asked what he would tell his players before the quarterfinal match Saturday against Germany.

"I will ask them to play for their lives," he said. "There's an entire country behind them that hasn't seen success for a long time and now has great hopes."

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