NAPLES, Italy -- Officials of Italian soccer club Napoli, as expected, rejected the financial demands made by Diego Maradona, back from drug suspension, before the midfielder reports to training camp.
The demands rejected by Napoli reportedly included $9 million for the upcoming season, as opposed to the $2 million dollars he is contracted to receive, and a writeoff of a $6.3 million advance the club already paid him.
Maradona's 15-month suspension for cocaine use expired June 30, but he has refused to report to the team despite having one year left on his contract. The Argentine star reportedly wants out of his Napoli contract so he can join Spanish club Sevilla or Olympic Marseille of France.
A statement issued by Napoli President Corrado Ferlaino said he would honor only the current contract. He said Maradona was asking for a 'ridiculous sum with vague guarantees and no consideration for the damage the club has suffered.'
Maradona called Ferlaino 'a man without a heart' and told the Italian news agency Ansa he would stay in his hometown of Buenos Aires for the time being.
Reuters had reported Friday that it seemed likely Napoli would agree to some of Maradona's other demands, including a request for an island villa with round-the-clock protection, the right to train alone and to choose which games the midfielder would play.
Maradona, 31, was suspended by the Italian Soccer Federation after testing positive for cocaine following a match in March 1991. The suspension was recognized by FIFA, world soccer's governing body, which barred Maradona from playing for any team or league under FIFA's jurisdiction.
Maradona starred for Argentina when that country won the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and was a key member of the team that reached the 1990 World Cup final before losing to Germany. The midfielder has been a member of Napoli since 1984.