Vol. 5 Num 317 Mon. April 18, 2005  

Maradona protests racism arrest

Diego Maradona has joined a chorus of protest after an Argentine soccer player was arrested by Brazilian police for allegedly racially abusing an opponent during a Libertadores Cup match.

"Racism exists everywhere and in Brazil if they have problems they should resolve them elsewhere, not on the soccer pitch," the former Argentina international said in a television interview on Friday.

Quilmes defender Leandro Desabato was arrested on the Sao Paulo pitch after the final whistle on Wednesday and accused of slander aggravated by racism. He spent two nights in a police cell before being released.

Even the Argentina government has become involved.

"This can't be considered discrimination when there is so much adrenaline," Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez told reporters.

For Julio Grondona, president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), slurs of this type "are very common on a soccer pitch where the player's pulse is racing".