Argentine soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona praised on Sunday the large number of African immigrants playing on the European teams headed to the 2018 World Cup semifinals (Belgium, France, England and Croatia). Also Read - Argentina Football Legend Diego Maradona Claims to Have Been Abducted by Aliens

Speaking on a television show broadcast on the TeleSUR network, Maradona recalled the large proportion of players of African origin who are on these four teams. Also Read - Oscar-winning Asif Kapadia's Diego Maradona documentary to release in India on October 11

According to data presented on the show, 78.3 per cent (14 out of 23) of France’s players were born in 11 different African countries, while the percentage of immigrants playing for England and Belgium is 47.8 per cent.

Maradona spoke of a conversation he once had with Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho, who purportedly said that the immigrants playing on European teams “know very well they are entering another world in which their day-to-day lives will be radically different. We now have the largest number of immigrants ever playing in a World Cup.”

Maradona, however, criticized the “mafia” that exists in professional soccer leagues, in which “African players are taken to Europe to be nationalized, while the players must agree, as it is a way to improve their livelihoods.”

The Argentine soccer great said that immigrant players “want an opportunity to prove their worth, to be able to eat four times a day. The way players are trafficked is terrible and this is happening like never before, in every large team.”