BBC SPORT | 2010/07/28 | 22:56:12 GMT
Diego Maradona has accused the Argentine Football Association of "lies and betrayal" after his contract as national coach was not renewed. Maradona claimed national team manager Carlos Bilardo "worked in the shadows" to oust him after Argentina’s quarter-final exit at this summer’s World Cup. He also accused AFA president Julio Grondona of lying about his future. "They called me to put out a fire and we put it out. I’ve given everything, everything," he stated. Maradona’s 20-month reign as Argentina manager ended on Tuesday after he rejected demands to change his backroom team, leading to the AFA voting not to renew his contract. "Grondona lied to me. Bilardo betrayed me," he said 24 hours later. "When we were in mourning [after the 4-0 defeat by Germany at the World Cup], Bilardo was working in the shadows to get me fired.
"Grondona, in the dressing room after we had been knocked out of the World Cup in South Africa, told me in front of witnesses and the players that he was very happy with my work and that he wanted me to carry on. On our return to Argentina things started to take on a bizarre twist and on Monday I met with Grondona. After five minutes, he told me that he wanted me to continue but that seven of my technical staff could not stay. When he told me this, he was saying that he didn’t want me to carry on in the job. He knows that it is impossible for me to stay as coach without my colleagues." Grondona later insisted he had wanted Maradona to stay on but said changes had to be made among his coaching team. "I can’t see how there was a betrayal of any kind," he stated. "The only thing I was looking for ways to make a change, not to get rid of Maradona."
Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez, who has backed Maradona’s tenure since the World Cup exit, was sad to see him leave the post. "He took over the national team when it was a hot potato and lots of people predicted we wouldn’t even qualify for South Africa," she added. "I’m really sad about Diego; I think the team put on a very dignified performance. I don’t know what happened [between Maradona and Grondona] but it saddens me, they should come together and fix things." Argentina Under-20 coach Sergio Batista has been appointed caretaker boss following Maradona’s departure. Batista played alongside Maradona at the 1986 World Cup, which was won by an Argentina team managed by Bilardo.