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Maradona leaves Argentina post

Diego Maradona has left his post as Argentina boss after a unanimous vote from the Argentine Football Association.

Maradona had been offered a new four-year contract but said he would only continue on condition that his backroom staff remained. He met with AFA president Julio Grondona on Monday, but the differences between the parties could not be resolved.

Grondona revealed details of the talks to the board on Tuesday and AFA spokesman Ernesto Cherquis Bialo has now confirmed Maradona's deal will not be renewed.

"There was a big chasm that made it impossible to find an agreement," he said. "We will not renew the contract. For the match against Spain, scheduled for September 7, we may already have the new coach.

"It is difficult to agree. The hardest difference to agree on was changing some of Diego's staff. Nobody has been sacked. A contract has not been extended because the conditions were not the suitable. When you cannot agree with somebody you love, you are not happy at all. I always want to talk to him, but sometimes it is difficult because this is not the best moment.''

Other AFA board members appeared less saddened by the situation, however. General secretary Jose Luis Meiszner told cable channel C5N: "I would be hypocrite if I didn't admit there was a general disliking of several aspects of the cycle that ended with the World Cup. We did not see any intention to show humility, to say things should have been done better. There was no evaluation, no review, no conclusions. These are the things you have to think about in order to think about the future.''

Luis Segura, a member of the executive committee and former secretary of national teams, added: "He made it too difficult for us. He rejected all changes. Diego said he did not want any changes. That's unfair.''

A statement on the AFA website added: "The president of the Argentinean Football Association, Mr Julio Grondona, made the members of the executive committee aware of the conversation with Mr Diego Maradona, setting out the points which had come out from the meeting.

"The executive committee unanimously resolved not to renew the contract with Mr Diego Maradona as coach of the Argentina national football team."

Maradona faced heavy criticism during his time in charge of the national side, with the team struggling during qualification for this summer's World Cup before exiting at the quarter-final stage with a 4-0 defeat to Germany.

Grondona, though, had defended Maradona's performance in South Africa and suggested last week that he expected him to remain in charge.

Estudiantes boss Alejandro Sabella, Racing Club's Miguel Angel Russo and Sergio Batista - currently in charge of the country's Under-20 side - are believed to be in the running for the position. Batista, who took Argentina's under-23 side to gold at the 2008 Olympics, will manage the team for the international friendly against the Republic of Ireland on August 11.

Grondona suggested Batista might remain in charge for some time as no candidates were yet in the frame for the full-time position.

"We have time to choose the technical staff,'' he said. "We have not thought about anybody yet. Batista is a member of the staff of this body so he will obviously fill the place as long as is needed.''

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