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Saturday, June 13, 1998 Published at 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK

Sport: Football

Maradona sentenced for shooting reporters

Diego Maradona: fired at journalists with an air-gun

Former Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona has been given a suspended jail sentence of two years and 10 months for shooting journalists with an air rifle.

The case involved a February 1994 incident when he fired at photographers and reporters outside his Buenos Aires country home, injuring four people.

[ image: The football star is free to travel to the World Cup]
The football star is free to travel to the World Cup
TV footage of the incident showed Maradona, who was found guilty of assault with a weapon, crouched behind a Mercedes with two other men firing an air gun at reporters.

The ruling clears the way for the former Argentine national team captain to travel to France for the World Cup.

While there, Maradona, 37, is expected to serve as a commentator for several television networks covering the competition.

'Justice for all'

The journalists injured by Maradona said they would appeal because they considered the sentence too light.

"But at least this exemplary case does show that there is justice for all," said reporter Daniel Talamoni, one of the four journalists who sued Maradona.

"When the case began four years ago, everyone said it was impossible they would sentence a man idolised in Argentina and forgiven everything."

The shooting preceded the lowest point in the career of one of soccer's best-ever players.

A few months after the incident, Maradona was sent home in disgrace from the 1994 World Cup in the United States for testing positive for a banned stimulant.


His career has been marred in recent years by drug scandals and temperamental, short-lived comebacks.

He was banned for 15 months for taking cocaine while playing for the Napoli team in Italy in 1991.

Two years ago, his friend and manager Guillermo Coppola was jailed in Argentina on drug charges.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Maradona wanted to return to Napoli as a player or player-manager. But the plan fell through and his playing career is considered to be over.

The Argentinian World Cup 1998 squad is the first for four World Cups not to feature Maradona.

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