BUENOS AIRES - Diego Maradona's stormy
spell as Argentina coach came to an end on Tuesday when the
Argentine Football Association (AFA) voted unanimously not to
renew his contract.
Maradona's future had been in doubt since Argentina's 4-0
thrashing by Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals in South
Africa this month, less than two years since his
"There needed to be some changes among Diego's staff...
and we couldn't come to an agreement," AFA chief Julio Grondona
"No one's being kicked out, a contract hasn't
been renewed because we didn't have the conditions to do so."
An AFA spokesman cited "unbridgeable differences" with the
flamboyant Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup victory as
captain in 1986 and is adored by many Argentines.
The team's earlier-than-expected exit from the tournament
followed a shaky qualifying campaign, but the former player was
still given a hero's welcome when the squad returned home and
President Cristina Fernandez urged him to stay on.
Several dozen fans, some banging drums and chanting,
gathered outside the AFA's headquarters after Tuesday's
Speculation had mounted ahead of the meeting that Maradona
would not stay on as coach - a position he had held since
November 2008 - because of the disagreement over his coaching
Maradona, 49, said Sunday he wanted to stay on, but only if
he could keep control over the choice of his assistants.
Maradona was widely seen as one of the world's best-ever
players in his 1980s' heyday, but he battled drug addiction,
obesity and alcoholism for years after retiring from the game
in the 1990s.
That made his comeback as national team coach an even more
remarkable personal achievement, especially because he had very
little experience as a manager.
He had a patchy tenure as coach of Argentina, however, even
though the team's convincing wins in their opening World Cup
games propelled them into the list of favorites.
Maradona's exit means Argentina need to find a new coach
for the Copa America regional tournament next year but Grondona
said there was plenty of time to recruit a new training staff.
Local media said former Boca Juniors coach Carlos Bianchi,
who led the Buenos Aires club to a string of national and
continental titles in two stints between 1998 and 2004, was a
Other names circulating as possible successors include
Estudiantes coach Alex Sabella, Independiente's former coach
Americo Gallego, former Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa and
ex-River Plate, Inter Milan and Argentina striker Ramon Diaz.
Grondona said youth team coach Sergio Batista, Maradona's
former 1986 team mate, was the logical choice as caretaker
coach and he will lead the team for a friendly against Ireland
in Dublin on August 11.
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