Argentine great Diego Maradona said England perpetrated a “monumental robbery” in their World Cup victory over Colombia and accused referee Mark Geiger of not being up to such a game.
Maradona, notorious in England for his famous ‘Hand of God’ goal at the 1986 tournament, said the American official should have penalised Harry Kane rather than give a penalty for a foul by Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez during Tuesday’s knockout match.
“Today I saw a monumental robbery on the pitch… a fatal mistake for a whole country,” he said of the incident that put England 1-0 ahead in the second half.
Today I saw a monumental robbery on the pitch... a fatal mistake for a whole country.
TV images showed Maradona wildly celebrating Colombia’s late equaliser that took Tuesday’s Round of 16 match to 1-1 and extra time. But he was despondent when England won a penalty shootout, taking them into a quarter-final against Sweden.
“I’m just sorry for the whole Colombian people,” Maradona said. “I cheered Colombia’s goal as if I had headed it myself.”
Geiger, the controversial referee
The ever-controversial former World Cup winner also pointed the finger at Pierluigi Collina, head of FIFA’s referee committee, for allowing Geiger’s designation.
“Here’s a gentleman who decides, a referee who, if you Google him, shouldn’t be given a match of this magnitude… Geiger, an American, what a coincidence,” Maradona added on his nightly World Cup show for Venezuela-based Telesur broadcaster.
Geiger had already endured criticism from another team at this World Cup. During the group stages, Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat alleged that Geiger had asked Portugal’s Pepe for a shirt during the match that Portugal won 1-0.
Geiger, who referees in America’s Major League Soccer has been on the the FIFA International Referees List since 2008. He refereed Colombia’s 3-0 victory over Greece at the 2014 World Cup.