R.I.P. Diego Armando Maradona. A news item of national and international impact. Millions mourn him and remember him for his wonderful plays, in the potreros (slums vacant lots) or in modern stadiums, in Villa Fiorito, Argentinos, Boca, Newell’s, Napoli, Barcelona or the National Team. He is the one who will live on in printed T-shirts in the most remote places on earth. He is the one who everyone waited for running into the field chanting “Maradooooo…”raising a smile from the public amid misfortune and poverty. Today we say goodbye to the greatest football player of all times.
The one who developed in the slums saying his greatest dream was to be a world champion. And he did. The one who grossed out Gatti and Fillol (goalkeepers) with his dribbles, passes, and goals. The unstoppable Diego in the 1986 World Cup when he dazzled with his mazy run to fire the best World Cup goal that still moves us to tears, four years after hundreds of Argentinian soldiers had died in Malvinas.
He was the one who stood up to FIFA denouncing Joao Havelange gangsters when no great football player had ever dared, even forming a footballers union. He was the one who opposed Grondona’s AFA (Argentinian Football Association) and told the previous Pope that if he was so concerned about the poor he should sell the Vatican gold, although he later befriended Pope Francis. He died today, being the one who did not hesitate to get on a train to repudiate Bush’s FTAA in Mar del Plata in a dignified anti-imperialist attitude.
His personality transcended the football fields with its pros and cons. The football star with his lights and shadows is gone. To acknowledge his magical play does not mean to support his political or personal behaviour.
There were lights and shadows in his personality. He had deeply contradictory facets besides his undisputed genius as a football player. Although Maradona tattooed the Che’s face, he mistakenly followed Peronism, from Menemism to Kirchnerism, and enthusiastically supported the dictator Maduro. He had a detestable behaviour at times and was reported for gender violence. He had to recognise his daughters and sons after legal proceedings and showed his pathetic male chauvinism. Behaviours that are well pointed out in his last goodbye by those who rightly do not silence, nor will they silence the macho and misogynist behaviours of any famous person, even idols.
Asked in a report what he would say facing his death, Maradona pointed out “I would put up a tombstone saying: thanks to the ball”. For what he did as a football player and not for his political or personal positions, those of us who like football will remember him as millions will do.
Jose Roldan, from Socialist Left, a member of the IWU-FI.
25 November 2020