Diego Maradona has claimed Colombia were victims of a “monumental robbery” in their World Cup round-of-16 defeat to England on Tuesday.
Colombia lost 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, with Maradona echoing Colombia captain Radamel Falcao in accusing American referee Mark Geiger of favouring Gareth Southgate’s side.
Geiger awarded a penalty to England after Carlos Sanchez was adjudged to have brought down Harry Kane, although Colombia levelled through Yerry Mina’s stoppage-time header.
“The penalty was not a penalty — it was a foul by Kane,” Maradona told Venezuelan TV station Telesur. “Why didn’t he use VAR?
“I’m reeling because when I spoke to [FIFA president Gianni] Infantino the first time, everything had changed at FIFA: the thieves had left, the fixes, everything.
“And today I saw a monumental robbery on the pitch. I apologise to the Colombian people, but the players are not to blame as we don’t choose the referees.
“The referees are chosen by [Pierluigi] Collina, who was appointed by Infantino to change the new FIFA from thieves and fixers, and today we saw the opposite — an old and fixed FIFA.”
Maradona, who captained Argentina to victory at the 1986 World Cup, said he was surprised Geiger had been chosen for the match.
Earlier in the tournament, Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat alleged that Geiger had asked for a Portugal player’s shirt during the Group B match between the sides, a claim FIFA denied.
At the 2014 World Cup, then Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi criticised the official for making “a lot of mistakes” in a defeat to France.
“This referee may know a lot about baseball but he has no idea of football,” Maradona said. “It’s very clear to me, Geiger, an American, how curious that he was the one who invented a penalty for Brazil [in a 1-1 friendly draw against Colombia in 2012], that Nigeria accused him at FIFA …”
Maradona said Colombia had been hit by the absence of the injured James Rodriguez.
“England couldn’t find a way in, Colombia played how it could, with what it had, without James, without a creator,” he added.
“But I screamed Colombia’s goal as though I had been the one to head that ball because it’s not possible, you have to denounce this. As the captain of legends, I have to tell Infantino this cannot be left like this.
“This is a fatal mistake for a whole country, who had lots of hopes of their team and feel let down.”
Maradona also criticised England coach Southgate, saying: “I didn’t understand how England wanted to play.
“As a coach, for me to replace [Raheem] Sterling [with Jamie Vardy] and then bringing in [Eric] Dier [in place of Dele Alli] … that was insane. It favoured Colombia.”