BUENOS AIRES: Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona criticized his country's president on Monday, saying that Mauricio Macri is hurting Argentines with job cuts.
Macri came to power in December promising to cut bloated government spending and tame one of the world's highest inflation rates. Argentines have taken to the streets in protests against his unpopular decisions to eliminate subsidies and cut thousands of state jobs.
"Logically, I'd like for Macri to turn things around and give some joy to the people, but for now all I see is firings," Maradona told Argentina's radio La Red. "I keep getting info that he's vetoing this and that, and while people struggle to put food on the table, the rich keep getting richer."
Macri recently vetoed a bill that would ban layoffs in the public and private sectors, saying it threatened to scare off badly needed investment. The former mayor of Buenos Aires has also been president of Boca Juniors, one Argentina's top soccer clubs and where Maradona gained his early fame.
Maradona said he is now on the "opposite side" of Macri and described himself as "Cristinista," a reference to former President Cristina Fernandez, the fiery populist who dominated the political landscape during eight years in office before leaving in December.
Maradona also said he will help clean up soccer's discredited image. The former Argentina captain said that he will be a "collaborator" for FIFA President Gianni Infantino as the international soccer's governing body tries to recover from the worst corruption scandal in its history.
"I'm just a grain of sand in a serious problem at FIFA," Maradona said. "Soccer has been ransacked."