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World Cup 2018: Diego Maradona says England committed ‘robbery’ against Colombia

England committed a “monumental robbery” in beating Colombia in the last 16 at the World Cup, according to Argentina legend Diego Maradona. Colombia captain Radamel Falcao also accused referee Mark Geiger of bias towards England, calling the American’s performance “shameful”.

Diego Maradona says England committed 'robbery' against Colombia
Diego Maradona says England committed ‘robbery’ against Colombia

Geiger often struggled to control a feisty encounter in Moscow, which England won on penalties.

“This situation was undermining us,” said Falcao.

Maradona felt Geiger should have penalised Harry Kane for a foul on Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez instead of awarding the penalty that allowed the England captain to open the scoring just before the hour mark in Moscow.

“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.

Maradona was pictured wearing a Colombia shirt prior to the game and TV images showed him celebrating Yerry Mina’s late equaliser.

Fifa said Maradona’s comments were “entirely inappropriate” and that insinuations about the referee were “completely unfounded”.

Football’s world governing body added it was “extremely sorry” to read the comments from “a player who has written the history of our game”.

“Fifa strongly rebukes the criticism of the performance of the match officials which it considers to have been positive in a tough and highly emotional match,” it said.

‘He only spoke English, some bias was certain’

Former Chelsea and Manchester United striker Falcao was one of six Colombia players booked by Geiger, while two England players had their names taken.

“The referee disturbed us a lot, in the 50-50 plays, he always made the calls in favour of England,” said Falcao. “He didn’t act with the same criteria for both teams. When in doubt, he always went to the England side.

“I found it peculiar that they put an American referee in this instance. To tell you the truth, the process leaves a lot of doubts.”

How Colombia reacted

Colombia’s Caracol Radio station dedicated an online story to the referee entitled, ‘Mark Geiger, the referee most hated by Colombians’.

Leading daily El Tiempo also called Geiger “controversial”, saying in its story “he has had some mishaps, both in Concacaf and in friendly matches”

Colombia’s media also praised what they saw as a gutsy performance by their team, who were without injured Bayern Munich midfielder James Rodriguez.

“Thank you warriors! Colombia departs from the World Cup with their heads high,” RCN Noticias TV said in their online match report.

“The dream ends for the Tricolour team which leave with their heads high after their bravery and commitment. Thanks boys, the Colombian people support you!” the story said.

El Pais chose a similar headline: “Thank you warriors!”