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FIFA denies blocking Maradona from Maracana

Wednesday - 6/18/2014, 2:01pm  ET

Argentinian fans hold banners with portraits of soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona, left, and Barcelona's soccer star Lionel Messi before the group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Bosnia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

GRAHAM DUNBAR
AP Sports Writer

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Diego Maradona is not a special guest of FIFA at the World Cup, though Gisele Bundchen could still be.

FIFA played down the latest broadside aimed by Maradona, one of the governing body's fiercest and most regular critics.

The Argentina great has claimed in the media that he was blocked from watching his country at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday.

While FIFA dismissed reports that Bundchen could present the actual World Cup at Maracana on July 13, the Brazilian supermodel seems a candidate to bring the trophy on to the field before kickoff.

"I have seen a lot of confusion in the media around that," FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said Wednesday, confirming longstanding plans that FIFA President Sepp Blatter will present the trophy. He could be joined by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Maradona played in two World Cup finals -- receiving the trophy as Argentina captain in 1986 -- but his privileges at this tournament seem to extend only as far as working journalist's accreditation.

Maradona is at the World Cup with Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur, which does not have rights to broadcast matches. Journalists require an additional ticket to sit in the media tribune at matches.

He told Argentinian media that FIFA barred his access to the 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"As long as he is going in with the right media access then there shouldn't be any issue," Fischer said, adding that FIFA had not received a complaint from Maradona "nor for anybody else."

"Maybe he went somewhere where we didn't have the necessary access but we have no record of it," she said.

Maradona was inspiration of the Argentina team that won in '86, and then reached the 1990 final.

He was also the last player expelled from a World Cup for doping in 1994, when he tested positive for five different banned stimulants.

Previously expected to be involved in World Cup draw ceremonies, Bundchen could be part of the final's pre-match ceremonies.

"What we are planning at the moment is who will bring the trophy on the field," Fischer said, responding to speculation on how the model and wife of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady could be involved. We haven't finalized it."

"It will definitely be a player and somebody else," the FIFA spokeswoman said of the trophy arrival. "It will remain the entire match as we have seen in 2010 and 2006."


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