DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Infamous for using his fist to score a goal during a World Cup quarterfinal match, Diego Maradona has turned to criticizing an opposing coach for the way he celebrated a victory.
Maradona, who took over at United Arab Emirates club Al Wasl in May, was upset with Al Ain coach Cosmin Olaroiu’s celebration in the 1-0 loss Saturday. Olaroiu and his staff apparently directed their joy at the 1986 World Cup-winning Argentine after Al Ain scored the only goal.
“All that happened was not right and unacceptable in professional football,” Maradona said Monday in a statement. “While the coach is entitled to celebrate the team’s victories, there is a manner and a way of doing so without aggravating the opponent – and that does not reflect what happened last Saturday.”
Al Wasl also said that the Al Ain supporters threw stones at the fans and their cars as they were leaving the match.
“This kind of behaviour is unacceptable,” club spokesman Ahmed Khalifa said. “We are patiently awaiting the Pro League Committee’s decision, and are confident that they will take the necessary action against the wrong-doers following the irresponsible acts that Al Wasl fans fell victim to.”
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Olaroiu, a Romanian who is in his first season as coach of Al Ain, could not be reached for comment Monday. But in a newspaper report on Sunday, Olaroiu said Maradona’s criticisms came from someone “who doesn’t have a clear mind,” taking a shot at the Argentine’s long history of drug and alcohol abuse.
“Maradona doesn’t always have a clear mind because of his life,” Olaroiu said. “I don’t take drugs. My life is clear. I don’t do anything. I don’t disrespect people here but he can do anything. Me, they kick me out, why?”
Maradona left Dubai on Sunday to attend the funeral of his mother, Dalma Salvadora Franco de Maradona. “Dona Tota,” as she was known, died Saturday at 82.
In Buenos Aires on Monday, the former Argentina captain laid his mother to rest in a private funeral ceremony that was attended only by close friends and some well known Argentine athletes, including tennis star Juan Martin del Potro.
Maradona, who has a tattoo of a rose on his back with the words “Tota, te amo” or “Tota, I love you,” was seen briefly leaving a funeral chapel dressed in a suit and wearing dark sunglasses as he stepped into a vehicle forming part of the funeral cortege.
Maradona was one of the greatest football players in history, and his two most famous goals came in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals. First, he punched a ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in what has become known as the “Hand of God” goal. Four minutes later, he weaved past four opponents from halfway to beat Shilton for what FIFA later declared the greatest goal in World Cup history.
Argentina went on to win the World Cup that year, but Maradona and his teammates lost in the 1990 final.
Maradona retired in 1997, but he battled weight problems and an admitted cocaine habit even before he left the game. He even once fired an air gun at reporters outside his home and was threatened with jail.
Maradona turned to coaching in 2008, taking over at Argentina and leading his country to the World Cup in South Africa. But after barely qualifying from the South American region, Maradona unleashed a string of profanities in yet another scandal.
In September, Maradona kicked an Al Wasl fan’s hand after a match because it was intruding on a photo he was trying to take with a banner of support from his grandson.