LONDON (Reuters) - Former Argentina captain Diego Maradona says longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter and European soccer chief Michel Platini should have been given life imprisonment rather than six-year bans from soccer for ethics violations.
The pair were suspended for eight years — reduced to six this week — for a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.03 million) made to the Frenchman in 2011 by FIFA with Blatter’s approval for work done a decade earlier. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
“It seems like the FIFA ethics committee was wrong,” Maradona, 55, told Reuters TV.
“Having so much evidence against these people and having seen how they were robbing for so many years, they should have given both life imprisonment.”
FIFA is caught in the worst crisis in its 112-year history with scores of people, including many former FIFA officials, charged with corruption-related offences in the United States. Blatter is among those who also face a parallel Swiss investigation.
Maradona, who earned 91 caps for Argentina and won the World Cup in 1986, believes Blatter’s replacement at FIFA should not be motivated by money.
“I would like to see a president who is not interested in becoming a millionaire thanks to the ball, the sponsors or the World Cup — because that is where they collect a good load of money,” he said.
“That is the kind of man I want to lead FIFA and he will have my support.”
He also branded presidential candidate Gianni Infantino, the UEFA general secretary, a “traitor” for not standing by UEFA president Platini.
“He is an absolute traitor because he kept working as if nothing was happening while his boss (Michel Platini) was between a rock and a hard place, or almost behind bars,” said Maradona.
“It is very wrong to go from drawing the lots to run for FIFA president.”
Reporting by Rob Hodgetts, Editing by Ed Osmond