Speaking at a press conference on Sunday to promote the tournament, which runs from Thursday through to November 8, the 1986 World Cup winner said: “I will support the UAE and not Argentina because of my differences with my country. I urge all the fans to come in large numbers to support the home team.”
His comments continue a long running spat with the Argentine Football Association (AFA), who sacked him as coach of the national team after the 2010 World Cup, where Argentina were knocked out in the quarter-finals after a 4-0 loss to Germany.
Maradona travels between Argentina and the UAE, where he is a global ambassador for Dubai Sports Council, following a brief spell as coach of Dubai’s Al Wasl Football Club. He is also the spiritual coach for Argentine Primera D side Deportivo Riestra.
The UAE kick off their Fifa Under-17 World Cup campaign against Honduras in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, while Argentina face Iran in Dubai on Saturday.