KEIR RADNEDGE in BUENOS AIRES —- Diego Maradona is expected back in Argentina shortly en route for Madrid after clashing with Mexican fans when his Sinaloa Dorados lost a promotion play-off.
Maradona had been appointed as coach only in September and all went well at first after Dorados qualified for the play-offs. However opposing fans turned on him after a 4-2 defeat defeat by Atleticos de San Luis.
Argentina’s inspirational World Cup-winning captain in 1986 had been sent from the bench twice in the regular season. The first time was in the playoffs quarter-finals against Mineros of Zacateca and the second time after crossing swords with San Luis coach Alfonso Sosa after the first leg of the play-off final.
Maradona, who scored 34 goals in 91 game for Argentina, was banned from the bench and had to follow the match from the stands. After the game he had to be restrained by officials from launching himself at critics from both clubs.
Dorados were formed in 2003 and were Pep Guardiola’s last club as a player before he turned to coaching. Their appointment of Maradona was his sixth n management. He had short unsuccessful spells with clubs in Argentina and the United Arab Emirates as well as guiding his country at the 2010 World Cup.
Maradona is expected to leave the Dorados role with immediate effect and return to Argentina ahead of flying on to Madrid where Boca Juniors – one of his original Argentinian clubs – are due to play old city rivals River Plate in Sunday’s contentious second leg of the final of the Copa Libertadores.
Both clubs are expected to play even though River have lodged a formal objection at ‘losing’ home advantage and Boca have protested that they should be awarded the Copa title because the original second leg nine days ago was postponed after hooligans attacked the visitors’ team bus.
Maradona has described the South American confederation CONMEBOL as the “scourge” of football.
He told local media: “I want to ask [CONMEBOL president] Alejandro Dominguez why the hell I have to take myself and my family all the way to Madrid to see this game.
“I wonder why they do not play in the Vélez Sarsfield stadium. They are the scourge of football.”
The names of around 300 known hooligan fans of River Plate – known as barras bravas – have been sent to the Spanish authorities in response to a request to the Argentinian Security Ministry to try to ensure that they do not obtain tickets for the Copa showdown in Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernbeu.
More than 3,000 police and other security officers will be deployed in Madrid for fear of more fan violence.