Maradona in Russian rebuff

MOSCOW - Diego Maradona's visit to Russia for a friendly got off on the wrong foot when the Argentina coach cancelled a news conference yesterday.

MOSCOW - Diego Maradona's visit to Russia for a friendly got off on the wrong foot when the Argentina coach cancelled a news conference yesterday.

A large international media contingent was turned away from a hotel in Moscow after being told Maradona had no interest in meeting them.

"No, absolutely not," said Argentina media officer Andres Ventura when asked if Maradona would hold a news conference ahead of today's friendly against Russia at Moscow's Lokomotiv stadium.

Ventura blamed the Russian Football Association, which had announced the conference on its website, for the mix-up, saying "they didn't tell us". But the Russian Football Association blamed Argentina officials.

"We had the official confirmation from their delegation about Maradona's pre-match briefing," the football association said.

The media were also denied access to the team's training session at the stadium later in the evening.

Maradona had been unhappy about playing in Moscow, afraid some players might get injured ahead of next month's World Cup qualifier against Brazil. - Reuters

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