Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Maradona earring sold at auction in Italy


Maradona earring sold at auction

A diamond earring that used to belong to Diego Maradona has been sold for 25,000 euros (£22,000) - five times its asking price - at auction in Italy.

The unidentified woman who bought the item at the sale in the northern city of Bolzano said simply that she was satisfied with her purchase.

The money will go towards paying off some of the Argentine football legend's 37m-euro (£33m) Italian tax debt.

The debt was built up from his days as a player for Napoli from 1984-1991.

Diego Maradona
Maradona will look to guide Argentina to World Cup glory in the summer

The earring was seized by police when Maradona travelled to Italy last year to visit a weight-loss clinic.

It is not the first time Maradona's assets have been taken from him.

During another visit to Naples in 2006, police seized two Rolex watches.

But they cannot arrest the footballer, says the BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Rome, as the criminal case for tax evasion against him has lapsed under Italy's statute of limitations.

As a player, Maradona produced a series of stellar displays to guide Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup and then helped them reach the final, which they lost to Germany, four years later.

Since his appointment as coach of the Argentina national team in October 2008, he has endured a nervy tenure, which has included a heavy defeat by Bolivia and a home loss to fierce rivals Brazil.

Maradona earring displayed at auction sale in Bolzano, northern Italy, 14 January 2010
The money will go towards paying off some of Maradona's 37m-euro tax debt

However, despite a poll showing the majority of Argentina fans thought Maradona was unfit to coach the national team going into the final two World Cup qualifying matches, he guided the team through to South Africa with two dramatic victories.

Controversy continued to follow him though when he was banned from football for two months by Fifa, international governing body, for a furious outburst aimed at reporters and critics which followed Argentina's win over Uruguay in October last year.

The suspension, which finishes on 15 January, meant Maradona was unable to attend the World Cup draw last December.

Argentina will play in group B against Greece, Nigeria and South Korea with their opening fixture on 12 June.

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