at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Recife, Brazil – Football legend Diego Maradona hit out at Fifa after claiming seven of Costa Rica's players were subjected to post-match doping controls over fears sponsors would not pay up if bigger teams like Italy failed to get out of the group stage at the World Cup finals.
Costa Rica, who stunned south American champions Uruguay 3-1last week, qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup on Friday with a superb 1-0 win over four-time champions Italy in Recife.
In accordance with Fifa regulations, two players from each side underwent doping controls following the clash at Arena Pernambuco.
However five other Costa Rica players, unnamed in a report Saturday on www.gazzetta.it, were also called to give samples.
Maradona, who was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the United States after testing positive for a cocktail of banned products including ephedrine, said Fifa's decision amounted to a “lack of respect for the rules”.
The Argentinian also suggested the central Americans had come under extra scrutiny because sponsors would not “pay as promised” if more established teams like Italy failed to go through.
“Why test seven players from Costa Rica and not seven from Italy ?” said Maradona.
According to Gazzetta's report, Fifa explained that, as well as the two players from each side normally scheduled for post-match doping controls, five Costa Rican players were added to the list because they were not available for pre-tournament testing beforehand.
But Maradona said that explanation was unsatisfactory: “This is only happening because some people are annoyed Costa Rica, and not the big teams, are going through (to the next round), and so the sponsors won't pay what they'd promised (to pay).
“It's against the rules. Two players from each team are supposed to undergo doping controls. I know what I'm talking about, because it happened to me.
“But seven players? I've never seen something like that.” – Sapa-AFP