Press gang up on foul-mouthed Maradona

BUENCE AIRES: Diego Maradona’s sexually-explicit, foul-mouthed rant at his growing army of media critics, which overshadowed Argentina’s World Cup qualification, drew a scathing response.

Maradona had just overseen a 1-0 win over Uruguay in Montevideo which allowed the two-time world champions to squeeze nervously into the 2010 finals in South Africa when months of simmering rage finally boiled over. “There were those who did not believe in this team and who treated me as less than nothing,” said Maradona, whose team had endured a chaotic, lacklustre qualifying campaign.

“Today we are in the World Cup finals with help from nobody but with honour. To all of you who did not believe in us, and I apologise to all the women here, you can suck it and keep sucking it,” he added, repeating the phrase. Maradona, 48, a sporting icon in Argentina after skippering the 1986 World Cup winning team, enjoyed a honeymoon period at the start of his coaching reign before the knives began to be sharpened.

He was widely pilloried for the record 6-1 World Cup qualifier defeat in Bolivia and his relationship with the country’s soccer-obsessed sports media never recovered. Three more losses — against Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay — threatened to dump Argentina out of the World Cup picture for the first time since 1970.

“A festival of rancour”, headlined La Nacion newspaper, which wrote that “Maradona was devoured by a surplus of tension which finally exploded in the form of vindictive outbursts against journalists. “Provocative, insolent. These obscenities will go round the world, increasing the shame. The team continues to go to the dogs.”

Maradona’s outburst has already become a sensation with Internet sites selling T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “They can keep sucking it”. In Argentina’s faltering campaign, Maradona called-up 78 players and presided over four wins and four defeats.

The country’s biggest-selling newspaper, Clarin, blasted Maradona’s outburst at the news conference which also saw him grab his testicles before gesturing at the TV cameras. “On the night that he achieved his objective, instead of relaxing and savouring the moment, he vented his aggression,” said the newspaper.