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   26 May, 2002 | 1809 IST


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Argentina not to retire no.10 shirt

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FIFA has barred Argentina from retiring the number 10 shirt in honour of their former World Cup-winning captain Diego Maradona.

The decision, taken by FIFA's executive committee, goes against the recommendation of the body's World Cup organising committee, which said it had no problem with Argentina's proposal.

"Whereas yesterday the organising committee was of the opinion that there should be an exception, today the executive committee was not of this opinion," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Sunday, adding that the Argentines had been told of the decision and accepted it.

"Perhaps for the next World Cup or FIFA competitions we will maybe be a little bit more flexible by saying a team can enter 23 players numbered 1-100, 1-30, 1-25 or whatever," Blatter told a news conference.

"But as we are three days, four days, five days before kick-off I think this was not the right time to do it."

The Argentine number 10 shirt will probably be taken by third-choice goalkeeper Roberto Bonano, who had been expected to take number 24.

"It's a funny situation because Argentina's number 10 will be able to use his hands this time," joked Blatter, in reference to Maradona's notorious 'hand-of-God' goal against England at the 1986 World Cup.

While retiring shirts is common in American sports it has never caught on in soccer, although Maradona's former Italian club Napoli said recently they would not use the number 10 shirt again as a mark of respect for Maradona.

The explosive Argentine guided his country to World Cup glory in 1986, the final in 1990 but was thrown out of the 1994 finals after testing positive for cocaine.

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