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October 24, 2009

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Defiant Maradona offers no apology

DIEGO Maradona won't apologize for a profanity-filled tirade on live TV, which is being investigated by FIFA and could land the Argentina coach a five-game suspension and a US$20,000 fine.

Maradona was defiant in a television interview on state-run Canal 7, which came just hours after FIFA said it had opened a disciplinary investigation into his conduct last week following Argentina's 1-0 victory at Uruguay, which advanced the struggling team to next year's World Cup.

The embattled Argentina coach said he planned to take the team to South Africa and had no plans to resign. He said the remarks were aimed at critics and journalists who were "anti-Argentine."

"It was getting it off my chest, and I don't regret it," Maradona said in the interview. "I gave my mother a kiss on the forehead and told her: 'If I was wrong I ask your forgiveness, but nobody else.'

"It had been building up," he added.


Maradona said after the match that his use of profanities did not merit an apology, and he reiterated that again.

"I apologize to the ladies, but not to those who talk about football on television," Maradona said. "What I said was also late -- outside family viewing hours."

FIFA's disciplinary code says a suspension and fine should apply to any football figure who "lowers himself through acts or words, to discriminate or insult a person or group of persons ... in a way that undermines human dignity."

Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona, who hired Maradona and is also a FIFA vice president, dismissed the remarks as a momentary outburst.

Maradona also denied rumors that he is using drugs again. As a player, he was kicked out of the 1994 World Cup in the United States after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Five years ago, he suffered a heart attack attributed to a cocaine overdose. Maradona says he's been clean ever since.

"I'm not going to put up with those who say I'm taking again, because -- thank God -- I've been clean for five years and I'm not going out clubbing at night," he said.


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