Buenos Aires – Argentine legend Diego Maradona said on Monday he is eyeing a FIFA vice presidency if Jordanian Prince Ali bin al Hussein wins the presidency, vowing to “clean out” corruption in world football.
The prince is vying to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA chief in new elections, after failing to unseat him in a vote on May 29 – only to have Blatter resign four days later amid sweeping US and Swiss investigations into corruption at the heart of world football’s governing body.
“If Prince Ali wins, there’s a good chance I’ll be vice president of FIFA. If I get there, I’m going to clean out all of them,” Maradona said in a telephone interview with Argentine TV program “Show del Futbol.”
The outspoken former star, who has a long-standing enmity with Blatter dating back to his playing days, said the FIFA supremo resigned “because he was afraid of the FBI and the Swiss police.”
“He was afraid they were going to take him out of FIFA in handcuffs,” he said.
Maradona said the prince had a good chance in the yet-to-be-scheduled vote to replace Blatter after staging the most competitive challenge to his rule in years.
“That hadn’t happened in a long time because FIFA bought the votes and said, ‘Lunch is over, Blatter won. Have some whisky, champagne, whatever you want,'” he said.
Maradona, who works as a sports promoter in Dubai, is currently back in Argentina visiting his ailing father, who is in a Buenos Aires hospital.
In typically brash style, the 1986 World Cup champion also lashed out at other likely contenders for the FIFA presidency.
Michel Platini, the Frenchman who heads European football body UEFA, “has to clarify the 187 matches he rigged, which he told me about in Dubai,” he said.
As for Luis Figo, the retired Portuguese star, Maradona said: “I respect him, but his word is worth less than Zorro’s friend’s” – a reference to Bernardo, the masked hero’s mute servant.
If given a post at FIFA, Maradona said he “would not go with a thirst for revenge,” but to build football fields in needy communities.