Maradona praises "Africans" in semi-finals

Maradona has made bizarre TV comments about "immigrants" playing for France, England and Belgium

Argentine soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona made bizarre comments about the large number of African immigrants playing on the European teams headed to the 2018 World Cup semifinals.

Speaking on a television show broadcast on the TeleSUR network, Maradona recalled the large proportion of players of African origin who represent France, England and Belgium.

According to data presented on the show, 78.3 per cent (14 out of 23) of France's players were born in 11 different African countries, while the percentage of immigrants playing for both England and Belgium is 47.8 per cent.

Maradona spoke of a conversation he once had with Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho, who purportedly said that the immigrants playing on European teams: "know very well they are entering another world in which their day-to-day lives will be radically different. We now have the largest number of immigrants ever playing in a World Cup."

Maradona then criticised the "mafia" that exists in professional soccer leagues, in which "African players are taken to Europe to be nationalised. While the players must agree, as it is a way to improve their livelihoods."

The Argentine soccer great said that immigrant players: "want an opportunity to prove their worth, to be able to eat four times a day. The way players are trafficked is terrible and this is happening like never before, in every large team."