Argentina icon Diego Maradona has called England’s win over Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup as a ‘monumental theft’.
The South Americans levelled the score in the 93rd minute via a Yerry Mina header after Harry Kane struck a penalty to give England the lead in the second half. The game was finally decided by a penalty shootout where England won 4-3.
During a program with Telesur, Maradona said American referee Mark Geiger "invented" a penalty that led to England’s first goal.
“(I am) moved because when I spoke with (FIFA president, Gianni) Infantino the first time, he told me, ‘everything changed in FIFA: the thieves are leaving, the arrangements are going’, but today I saw a monumental robbery on the pitch. I apologize to all the Colombian people, but the players are not to blame,” said Maradona with regret.
Maradona also thought FIFA were wrong to appoint American referee Mark Geiger for a match of this magnitude.
“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,” he said.
Geiger previously admitted to making ‘officiating errors’ in the 2015 Gold Cup semi-final between Panama and Mexico.
Panama complained to the football authorities after insisting they had a player wrongly sent off and a penalty was wrongly awarded in a 2-1 defeat.
Geiger later admitted in an interview with ESPN that if he had access to VAR during that match, he would have changed his decision in favour of Panama.
During this World Cup, following the game between Morocco and Portugal, the referee was accused by Nordin Amrabat of asking Ronaldo for his shirt during the game.
However, FIFA released a statement denying those claims, saying it "unequivocally condemned the allegations" and that Geiger "had acted in an exemplary and professional manner.
Maradona also pointed the finger at Pierluigi Collina, head of FIFA's referee committee, for allowing Geiger's designation.
"I'm just sorry for the whole Colombian people," Maradona said. "I cheered Colombia's goal as if I had headed it myself."