- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (AP) - Diego Maradona says he was lied to and betrayed by Argentina soccer officials who decided not to renew his contract as coach of the national team.

The former superstar whose team was beaten by Germany in a quarterfinal, said national team director Carlos Bilardo and association president Julio Grondona worked to get rid of him.

“They called me to put out a fire, and we put it out,” Maradona said. “Grondona lied to me. Bilardo betrayed me. While we were still in mourning, Bilardo worked in the shadows to throw me out.”

Bilardo was Argentina’s and Maradona its star player when the team won the World Cup in 1986.

Maradona read from a script for about 10 minutes in a restaurant in the Buenos Aires suburb of Ezeiza. And despite a room packed with reporters and family members _ including his two daughters _ he took no questions.

The 49-year-old Maradona suggested the 21 months he spent as coach was not enough. Argentina was beaten 4-0 by Germany in the quarterfinals three weeks ago in South Africa.

In a meeting Monday, Bilardo asked Maradona to continue without seven of his assistants. Maradona said he could not meet those conditions and his contract was not renewed.

“My technical team and I were prepared to keep going,” Maradona said. “Grondona, in the changing room in South Africa, said in front of witnesses that he was very happy with my work and wanted me to continue. But back in Argentina things started to change.”

Maradona was hired by Grondona despite having little coaching experience.

“I’ve given everything, everything,” Maradona said, ending his speech. “I am convinced that Argentine football needs to be in a better position. I have tried to transmit the pride that I feel, being Argentine.”

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