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ROME, June 21 (AFP)
Diego Maradona has weighed in on Italy's side in the great World Cup refereeing debate, blasting officials' handling of matches in an article written for Italy's Expresso news magazine Friday.
"If I'm not mistaken, no team in a World Cup has been given as many unmerited slaps in the face as Italy," said Maradona, who captained Argentina to World Cup victory in 1986 and won an Italian championship with Napoli.
"Under the shadow of referees, this World Cup is already a failure," said Maradona, who has been struggling in recent years to overcome cocaine abuse.
"Why so much aversion to Italy and so many favours for Brazil, who were thankful for a non-existent penalty and the lack of a red card for the farce staged by Rivaldo?" asks Maradona.
"Even leaving aside the inexplicable disallowed goal by Belgium" against Brazil in their second round tie, won 2-1 by Brazil.
Italy cried foul when they were beaten by South Korea in a second round match marred by refereeing decision which they say cost them a place in this weekend's quarter finals, including a disallowed "golden-goal" in extra-time.
In the end, the Koreans won the match with a "golden goal" of their own.
"Watching the World Cup from Cuba I don't know the games going on in the background. All I know is that FIFA puts its own interests first."
"The main protagonists in football must be the players and not the bureaucrats. It's one of my old battles."

Still Jealous of Brazi!! Maybe his fat ass should have been sent off for the numerous amounts of cheating he did...all the dives...And dont even mention the hand of God...Of all people this idiot had the nerve to complain about unfair treatment...YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM!! Get it through your head Diego Armando Maradona!!! You even intentionally cheated using Ephedrin during World Cup 94...You snorted away all of your brain cells...shut up and get a life...no one can complain about brazil getting favors after last game!
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