NIZNHY NOVGOROD, Russia (Reuters) - Argentine great Diego Maradona said England perpetrated a “monumental robbery” in their World Cup victory over Colombia and accused referee Mark Geiger of not being up to such a game.
Maradona, notorious in England for his famous ‘Hand of God’ goal at the 1986 tournament, said the American official should have penalized Harry Kane rather than give a penalty for a foul by Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez during Tuesday’s knockout match
“Today I saw a monumental robbery on the pitch... a fatal mistake for a whole country,” he said of the incident that put England 1-0 ahead in the second half.
“Here’s a gentleman who decides, a referee who, if you Google him, shouldn’t be given a match of this magnitude... Geiger, an American, what a coincidence,” Maradona added on his nightly World Cup show for Venezuela-based Telesur broadcaster.
TV images showed Maradona wildly celebrating Colombia’s late equalizer that took Tuesday’s Round of 16 match to 1-1 and extra time. But he was despondent when England won a penalty shootout, taking them into a quarter-final against Sweden.
The ever-controversial former World Cup winner also pointed the finger at Pierluigi Collina, head of FIFA’s referee committee, for allowing Geiger’s designation.
“I’m just sorry for the whole Colombian people,” Maradona said. “I cheered Colombia’s goal as if I had headed it myself.”
Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Christian Radnedge