‘Health problem’ forces Maradona to miss Russia 2018 Final Draw assistants unveiling
Maradona, who captained Argentina to victory at the 1986 Mexico World Cup tournament, is one of eight 'FIFA Legends' assisting the draw at the State Kremlin Palace on Friday, and was due to be unveiled at the venue on Thursday.
Seven of the eight FIFA World Cup Final Draw Assistants, minus Diego Maradona, who had an early flight. pic.twitter.com/y5V2F5edfM— Danny Armstrong (@DannyWArmstrong) November 30, 2017
However, it is understood that an early arrival to Moscow, coupled with health concerns, forced the 57-year-old to miss the official unveiling.
Maradona suffered a heart attack in 2004 that left him in intensive care and has been known for his substance abuse and a poor diet, both during and after his playing days.
The former Napoli and Barcelona number 10 is an icon of football not only in his native Argentina but around the world, and reached another World Cup final with Argentina in 1990. However, he failed a drugs test at USA '94 and was sent home from the tournament.
The other seven assistants did make it on stage, each representing a World Cup-winning nation, with the exception of Nikita Simonyan, the Soviet football legend who represents host nation Russia.
Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro and Diego Forlan, who represent Brazil, Italy and Uruguay respectively, were joined by Gordon Banks, Laurent Blanc and Carles Puyol of England, France and Spain to receive presents from 'superfans' from each of the 11 Russia 2018 host cities, who will also assist the draw on Friday.
The Final Draw takes place at 6pm Moscow time (15:00 GMT) at the State Kremlin Palace in the Russian capital, to decide the groups of the 32 participants in next season's tournament.