Argentine star Diego Maradona, widely regarded as the world's greatest soccer player, said yesterday in Rome he will not play in the next World Cup, in 1994 in the United States.
Maradona also said that defending champion Argentina's problems are not over despite a 2-0 victory Wednesday over the Soviet Union.
Asked about the '94 tournament, he told reporters: "I won't be in the United States. By then I will be 34 and I will be too old."
But he added: "Maybe I won't mind. I'm thinking about what it will be like in that World Cup with the problems created by different time zones on the American continent."
Argentina was shocked by Cameroon in the tournament's opening game, then recovered Wednesday by beating the Soviet Union, 2-0.
But Maradona, who repeatedly has said his team is weaker than in 1986, added he is under no illusions about Argentina's chances.
"Let's be frank," he said. "We still have big problems. There are, for example, weaknesses in midfield and we must learn to keep more possession."
On another note, Maradona admitted he used his hand to knock the ball away from the goal line in Argentina's win over the Soviets.
"The referee is a human being and can make mistakes," Maradona said. Company Is Coming
Wives and girlfriends of Swedish team members are flying in Friday for a weeklong visit aimed at fighting the so-called loneliness factor.
But the women will not be staying in the plush seaside hotel in the resort of Camogli where the players are based.
"I really don't know when we are going to see them. I guess we'll have to sneak over to their place one night," striker Stefan Pettersson said with a smile. Officiating Criticized
A top official of soccer's international governing body is not happy with the officiating in the World Cup. Josef Blatter, the general secretary of FIFA, said in Bern, Switzerland, he has been disappointed by some of the decisions.
He said Swiss referee Kurt Roethlisberger was "too harsh" in sending off American midfielder Eric Wynalda in the second half of the United States' 5-1 loss to Czechoslovakia. The referee's decision forced the Americans to play the final 38 minutes a man short after trailing, 3-0.
"A yellow card would have been sufficient," Blatter said.
In an interview with the Berner Zeitung newspaper, he also cited the "hand ball outside the penalty area when the Soviet Union played Romania, the first red card for a Cameroon player and also the penalty for Egypt against Holland."