Recife: Football legend Diego Maradona hit out at FIFA after claiming seven of Costa Rica's players were subjected to post-match doping controls over fears sponsors would not pay up if bigger teams like Italy failed to get out of the group stage at the World Cup finals.
Costa Rica, who stunned South American champions Uruguay 1-3 last week, qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup on Friday with a superb 1-0 win over four-time champions Italy in Recife.
In accordance with FIFA regulations, two players from each side underwent doping controls following the clash at Arena Pernambuco. However, five other Costa Rica players, unnamed in a report Saturday on www.gazzetta.it, were also called to give samples.
Maradona, who was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in USA after testing positive for a cocktail of banned products including ephedrine, said FIFA's decision amounted to a "lack of respect for the rules."
The Argentine also suggested the central Americans had come under extra scrutiny because sponsors would not "pay as promised" if more established teams like Italy failed to go through.
"Why test seven players from Costa Rica and not seven from Italy?" said Maradona. According to Gazzetta's report, FIFA explained that, as well as the two players from each side normally scheduled for post-match doping controls, five Costa Rican players were added to the list because they were not available for pre-tournament testing beforehand.