Buenos Aires - If Diego Maradona is serious about running for the FIFA
presidency, he still has a lot of work to do just to get on the ballot.
The former Argentina soccer star with a history of on- and-off-the field
controversy would need to persuade five of FIFA's member associations to
nominate him and then pass an integrity check.
Maradona's desire to run for FIFA's top job was reported by Victor Hugo
Morales, a journalist close to the retired great.
Morales, who hosts a show on the regional network Telesur, said on Twitter
that Maradona told him he plans to be candidate.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced this month that he would be stepping
down - four days after being elected for a fifth term - amid a US probe into
$150 million in bribes allegedly paid to top soccer officials.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro immediately called for Maradona to
Maradona has been a high-profile supporter of Venezuela's socialist
government and a sharp critic of corruption in soccer.
Maradona's long list of provocative incidents would seem to go against the
image that soccer's world governing body will want to embrace as it digs out
from its worst scandal.
Among other things:
- Maradona has tax problems in Italy, where his debts total tens of millions
of dollars accrued from his 1984-91 stint playing with Napoli.
- He was suspended for 15 months in April 1991 for testing positive for
cocaine while playing for Napoli.
-He was banished from the 1994 World Cup for doping. He tested positive for
five types of stimulants and diet pills after a group-stage match against
- He was accused of cheating when he punched in the "Hand of God"
goal against England at the 1986 World Cup, where he inspired Argentina to the
-In 1994, Maradona fired an air gun at reporters and was given a two-year
suspended sentence. Last year, he slapped a journalist in the face and called
him an "idiot" outside a theatre in Buenos Aires.
- His tumultuous personal life has often been a target for local media in
In the often mysterious world of FIFA politics, it is far from clear which
five of the 209 member would choose to nominate Maradona and why they would do
Cuba is perhaps one country which could back him, having welcomed Maradona
as a regular visitor to his friend Fidel Castro.
Venezuela is another ally because of Maduro's vocal support.
Still, FIFA's rules prohibiting political interference in soccer could
complicate those potential nominations.
It is difficult to see Maradona's native Argentina nominating him, given the
dire state of relations that existed between him and long-time federation
president Julio Grondona, who died last July.
Grondona's allies and entourage still have influence and a request to
support Maradona's nomination would likely be seen as an insult to the former
strongman of Argentine football.
Maradona also appeared to wear out his welcome in the United Arab Emirates,
the only country where he coached since leading Argentina at the 2010 World
Many soccer officials worldwide still support Blatter and will not have
forgotten Maradona's language toward the now-outgoing FIFA president during his
recent re-election campaign.
"I think we have a good chance to kick (Sepp) Blatter in the rear end -
without a doubt," Maradona said in April.
Even if Maradona secured the required backers, his problems to get on the
ballot paper would only just be starting.
FIFA election rules require mandatory integrity checks for presidential
hopefuls within 10 days before they are officially accepted as candidates.
The checks are overseen by FIFA's election monitor - audit and compliance
committee chairman Domenico Scala - and performed by the investigation chamber
of the governing body's ethics committee. That panel is chaired by Swiss
prosecutor Cornel Borbely, who succeeded his former boss Michael Garcia last
Scala could also rule on whether Maradona fulfils the basic election
requirement of holding official positions in soccer for at least two of the
five years before election day.
Maradona's coaching spell with UAE club Al Wasl lasted just over a year in