MOSCOW, July 5 (Sputnik) - Argentina legend Diego Maradona apologized on Thursday for lashing out at US referee Mark Geiger, who officiated Tuesday's FIFA World Cup round of 16 match between Colombia and England.
England edged out Colombia 4-3 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 following extra time. Maradona launched a scathing attack on the referee for awarding England a controversial penalty in the second half calling it a "monumental theft" and asking Chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee Pierluigi Collina to apologize to the Colombian people for appointing Geiger.
Earlier on Thursday, media reported that FIFA had rebuked Maradona for his harsh criticism saying that his “insinuations” were “entirely inappropriate and completely unfounded.”
"I said a few things the other day and I admit some of them are unacceptable. My apologies to FIFA and its President: as much as I may sometimes have opinions contrary to some referees' decisions, I have absolute respect for their work - [which is] not easy - that the institution and the referees do," Maradona posted on his official Instagram page.
The 57-year-old has been involved in several scandals at this summer's tournament including his smoking in the stands of Moscow's Spartak Stadium and showing middle fingers to the Nigerian supporters after Argentina's late goal in their final group-stage game saw them through to the round of 16.
On Saturday, media reported that FIFA had ceased cooperation with Maradona, who attended World Cup matches as its ambassador and was paid over $13,000 for each game.
Maradona, who is widely regarded as one of the best footballers in history, captained Argentina to victory at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on June 14 and will continue until July 15, with the matches being played in 11 cities across Russia.