Diego Maradona’s loss could soon be Bob Bradley’s gain.
Following his highly publicized falling out with Argentina manager Maradona, Boca Juniors midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme has begun looking into the possibility of joining another national team. Top on his list is Bradley’s United States squad.
“I have always loved the United States,” Riquelme told Goal.com in an email from Argentina. “The people are so friendly, the economy is so strong, and the food, like this place White Castle, is very special.”
FIFA rules, of course, state that Riquelme, who has 54 caps for Argentina, is bound to his home country, but the Boca number ten has already filed a grievance with FIFA against Maradona, claiming “hurt feelings.” He hopes to take advantage of an obscure FIFA loophole that grants international independence to players who have undergone “emotional trauma brought on by the absurd decisions of a coach or family member.”
It is believed that the rule was originally put in place years ago when an obscure Samoan player—the son-in-law of a Samoan king—petitioned to represent Tahiti.
Riquelme’s petition to be allowed to join the US was submitted by his agent on Monday afternoon, and included a letter from his mother, pleading with the game’s governing body to allow her son a chance to “show the world that Diego Maradona is an idiot.”
Maradona declined to comment for this story, telling Goal.com in a text message only that "Maradona is not an idiot."
During this week’s international break, Riquelme has been with the US team in Nashville, Tennessee, during their preparations for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago. He participated in a few scrimmages, but mostly spent time discussing his possible role in the side with head coach Bradley.
“My coaching staff and I are trying to find a place for Juan in the team, if the petition is granted,” Bradley said. “Maybe he could play at left back. Although Juan usually is in the middle, he has indicated through hand gestures that he is willing to play anywhere. Or maybe he was telling me he wanted all of us to go back to White Castle together. Either way, that’s the kind of team mentality I like in a player.”
FIFA is expected to make a decision by the end of Wednesday. The intricate nature of the loophole Riquelme is hoping to utilize includes a provision that the petition must be submitted and acted upon by the end of April 1.
A. Pril Fools, Goal.com