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Just because Maradona's paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get himArgentina's much-maligned manager may have qualified for next year's World Cup, but his mood was anything but mellow

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Argentina's coach, Diego Maradona, makes a point after steering his team to a place at the 2010 World Cup. Photograph: Andres Stapff/Reuters

"You lot take it up the arse," were Diego Maradona's words to the press immediately after his team secured a place at next year's World Cup finals. It was almost adding injury to the insult when he scanned the room and added, "if the ladies will pardon the expression". Looking increasingly Botox-ridden, the angry yet victorious Argentina coach was somehow able to raise a nervous chuckle from those on the receiving end of the abuse.

He wanted to dedicate the triumph to the fans back home and especially those who bothered to cross into Uruguay, to his girls Dalma and Giannina, and to his squad, who worked like never before for the 1–0 result. "But certain people who have not supported me, and you know who you are, can keep sucking," he added.

Grotesque and undignified, Maradona then grabbed his genitals with both hands, signalling some sort of manly insult to the TV cameras in the tunnel outside the dressing room.

In stark contrast, Uruguay's manager, Oscar Tabárez, praised his own team and their opponents. He had also impressed with the gentle manner in which he had helped Carlos Tevez back to his feet after a Uruguayan tackle had rolled the Argentina forward off the pitch during the game, and with the kind but firm way in which he expressed the view that his side could still make it to South Africa via next month's two-leg play-off with Costa Rica.

The Uruguay-born commentator Víctor Hugo Morales described the match as mediocre – "it is so bad it's not surprising the fans are celebrating a goal scored in a different match altogether," he said when news of the already qualified Chile's goal against Ecuador spread – and it was one which Argentina arguably won despite, rather than because of, Maradona's influence. Afterwards the players hugged each other and wept with joy as their manager wobbled towards the 70-year-old general manager, Carlos Bilardo, and they clutched each other sobbing.

When those two joined forces for their first World Cup, in 1986, they famously felt everyone was out to get them. "We had to leg it out of the country, even the government were asking for my head," Bilardo would later recount. Their sense of triumph in adversity was a theme throughout that tournament, and when Fifa's cameras captured the dressing-room celebration of a demented Diego waving his shirt in the air after the final and bellowing "we dedicate this to all of you, the fucking whore that gave birth to you", the clip was slotted into an otherwise classy edit of the tournament and released as a successful film, Hero.

There has been a sense that something similar is in the air right now: almost as if the antagonism fuels Maradona, keeps him alive even. As ever there is an element of truth in his opinions, and they shape his perceptions. But just because he's paranoid does not mean they're not all out to get him.

After an initial treading-on-eggshells approach, the Argentinian press has been more and more candid about its reservations. Criticisms are dealt out more readily and severely, and the personal gets mixed up with the professional.

And Maradona himself blurs the lines: his first game, against Scotland in Glasgow, saw a weepy manager discuss his daughter's pregnancy in detail after she had been admitted to hospital. The child's father, the striker Sergio "El Kun" Agüero, left the training camp to be with her. Maradona considered this the main issue of the day, praising his players for their ability to behave like caring human beings. There was no mention of tactics, line-ups, or anything else related to the game.

Almost a year on baby Benjamin has been born and amid rumours that the young couple are going through a rough patch, Agüero did not even get a place on the bench last night. Although these titbits of gossip are not published, they spread like wildfire.

Inside details from the camp are leaked in streams of text messages to selected journalists. The afternoon before the Uruguay match, one AFA insider messaged several of them just before 3pm, saying Maradona had just got up. It's hard not to be paranoid in that context.

But more worryingly still, Maradona's outburst echoes the warring attitude of the long-standing AFA president, Julio Grondona, towards the main media in particular, and most of the press in general. Yesterday he had a slight loss of cool when he spoke of how he is tired of "taking it" for 18 years. Singling out obscure radio stations for very specific criticisms of him, Grondona said he reads and listens to everything, all night long. His language of hatred and the way it was delivered left a sour taste.

And it is not just Maradona's team who are finding it difficult. The Under-20s failed to qualify for their World Cup, something which has hardly been discussed in the press yet.

Wednesday may have been the night on which Argentina confirmed their reservation at South Africa 2010, but if it goes on like this it ain't going to be pretty. And even though some of us chuckled during Maradona's press conference, deep down we also know that it's not funny either.

Posted by

Marcela Mora y Araujo Thursday 15 October 2009 12.34 BST

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Fifa investigates Maradona tirade

Argentina coach Diego Maradona is to be investigated by Fifa following his furious outburst after the World Cup victory in Uruguay on Wednesday.

Maradona delivered an expletive-laden tirade, broadcast on live TV, that was directed at reporters and critics after his side qualified for the 2010 finals.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter confirmed the organisation will investigate.

Blatter said they had "no alternative but to ask the disciplinary committee of Fifa to open a case".


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"You lot take it up the arse," were Diego Maradona's words to Celtic watching a video link at Torbett towers, those at the paedodome were said to be stunned and asked Artur Boruc if he had been playing away from home in Argentina, Aids McGeady was said to be inconsolable as he had been told it was okay "that is your front bottom" by Artur

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