TEHRAN — Argentine football icon Diego Maradona plans to visit Iran two years after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed him as "His Excellency" for his support of the Islamic republic, a report said on Saturday.
"Maradona showed interest in visiting Iran some two years ago, but due to his engagement as Argentina's coach, he could not come," the ILNA news agency quoted the head of Iran's football federation Ali Kafashian as saying.
"But recently some people who were arranging his visit said that they are on it and we said fine and so the necessary paperwork has started."
Kafashian said that the federation would make a further announcement as soon as the date of the visit had been finalised.
"He is not coming to Iran to coach but to visit, since he had previously shown interest in seeing Iran and meeting with Mr Ahmadinejad," Kafashian added.
In April 2008, Ahmadinejad sent a message to the former World Cup-winning captain in which he said that he is, "thankful for his Excellency's kindness towards the righteous and revolutionary Iranian nation."
The message was a response to Maradona's gift in late 2007 of one of his football shirts to the "Iranian nation," on which he wrote a slogan expressing his support and affection for the country.
Iran's hardline leader is a self-proclaimed football fan who still dons a tracksuit occasionally to play.>>>
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