Sat, Dec 24, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Federal police hold Diego Maradona at Rio International

AP , RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Diego Maradona claimed a Brazilian police officer pointed a gun at him while he argued with officials at Rio de Janeiro's international airport on Thursday.

Maradona, who was briefly detained for allegedly showing contempt to authorities, was late arriving for a return flight to Argentina after playing in a charity match on Wednesday, organized by Zico, coach of Japan and a former Brazil star.

Conviction on the charge is punishable in Brazil by up to two years in prison, and Maradona was released only after signing a legal document promising to return for all legal proceedings, federal police spokesman Carlos de Melo said.

Maradona later spoke at a news conference in Buenos Aires.

"All of sudden, five police show up. I didn't understand it all and one of them comes and tells me we were causing damages. I didn't damage anything. Then he pointed the pistol" at me, Maradona said.

He sought to minimize the incident, adding he hoped it wouldn't cause any problems between Argentina and Brazil. The two countries are neighbors with close ties, but often fierce soccer rivalries.

"This can happen anywhere in the world," he added.

Maradona allegedly argued with workers at Tom Jobin airport and then with authorities, upset that the flight wasn't held for him. The 45-year-old Argentine soccer great allegedly tried to force his way on board, prompting airport workers to call authorities.

Police said in a statement that Maradona "was extremely agitated ... and said obscenities to a federal police officer."

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