Boca Juniors supporters call Maradona a 'traitor'
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -Argentina coach Diego Maradona said he is "deeply hurt'' that fans from his former Boca Juniors team displayed posters in a recent match calling him a traitor, following a spat with Boca player Juan Roman Riquelme.
"I didn't expect that reaction from people, but I don't blame them,'' Maradona told an Argentine radio station late Wednesday.
Thousands of Boca fans held up posters in support of Riquelme during the team's 3-0 win over Argentinos Juniors at the weekend.
One such poster read: "Riquelme, Boca idol. Maradona, national team idol and traitor.''
The duel between the two Boca Juniors titans began when Maradona repeatedly and publicly criticized Riquelme's form, saying he was "of no use'' to the national team if he continued to perform poorly.
Riquelme fired back, resigning from the national team on March 10.
Maradona hadn't included Argentina's leading scorer in World Cup qualifiers since taking charge in November.
"It hurts me deeply that someone has called me a traitor,'' said Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup and 1990 final. "But people have the right to chose whichever side they want.''
Riquelme was in top form against Argentinos Juniors and scored a penalty in Boca's 3-1 victory over Guarani of Paraguay in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday.
Argentina hosts Venezuela on March 28 in a World Cup qualifier.