Dubai's Al Wasl soccer club fired Argentine manager Diego Armando Maradona as part of an effort to "change the image," a spokesman for the team told the Buenos Aires sports daily Ole.
Maradona, who as a player led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, had 10 months left on his two-year, $34 million contract with the U.A.E. club.
"After a meeting at 8:00 in the evening, the new Board of Directors ... released the current coaching staff," club spokesman Alejandro Garcia - also an Argentine - told Ole, adding that the decision caused him "surprise and anguish."
Just last month, club President Mohammed Ben Fahad confirmed that Maradona would remain as manager and said pre-season matches would begin July 25.
"They lost the (GCC Champions League) cup final, changed all the directors, the new president came out to say that Diego would continue being the coach - and now this," Garcia said.
Sources close to Maradona said he learned of his firing "from the Internet," while the now-former-manager said in a statement issued late Wednesday that he wished to remain with Al Wasl.
The 51-year-old Maradona accepted the position in Dubai after being dismissed as the manager of Argentina's national team in the wake of the squad's disappointing performance in the 2010 World Cup. EFE