[News] Maradona: the anti-imperialist perfect ten

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 2 10:40:33 EDT 2010

Maradona: the anti-imperialist perfect ten

July 1, 2010


José Steinsleger – La Jornada

Translation: Machetera for Tlaxcala

In journalism schools, when young people learn 
about the concept of “news,” their teachers 
resort to a classic example: news is when a 
person bites a dog, not the other way round.  But 
just this past March in Buenos Aires, Diego 
Maradona’s dog bit his upper lip, and the news flew round the world.

The star was rushed to emergency surgery 
(stitches and facial surgery) and experts on the 
subject turned their attention to the grotesque 
Bella, a costly example of the Chinese Shar Pei 
species.  With serene, balanced, affable 
characters, Shar Pei can react unpredictably if 
one looks them in the eye, face to face.

Whatever he says, or doesn’t say, does or doesn’t 
do, Maradona is always news.  And leaders like 
Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Néstor 
Kirchner or Mahmoud Ahmedinejad understand that 
the star’s political messages move the 
consciousness of the poor and exploited on five continents.

With some disdain, the elite on the left and 
right agree: he is a diva, alienated, crazy, 
demagogue, opportunist, degenerate, media 
phenomenon, cocaine-addict, populist, 
myth?  A myth, I believe, is the sublimation 
of intellectually inflated references and 
abstract imagined theories to avoid practical 
adherence to the real and concrete.

 From poverty, to soccer and fame, from the abyss 
of cocaine and treatment in Cuba for his 
addiction, the best player of the twentieth 
century according to FIFA (53.6 percent of those 
polled) has proven himself to be a generous and 
grateful man.  In 2000, he donated the royalties 
from his biography “I am Diego” to the people of 
Cuba and to Fidel, and ever since, he has carried 
a tattoo of Che on his right arm and one of the Comandante on his left calf.

Liberals can’t stand Maradona.  Is it because his 
speeches barely trouble the powerful?  In 
contrast, the right wing mob and parrots of world 
power are alarmed to hear his statements in favor 
of player unionization (the soccer workers, he 
says), and the eventual impact that this would 
have on the businesses in this industry that move 
billions in cash every second.

In clear, fierce, confrontational struggle, 
Maradona has leaned on his untouchable fame in 
order to liberate, upward and to the right, 
ideals that correspond politically to those below 
and to the left.  And alas, here lies the real 
substance of his differences with Pelé, the Uncle 
Tom of global capitalist soccer.

In November of 2005, motivated by the historical 
presidential summit in Mar del Plata (where the 
free trade project for the Americas, ALCA, was 
buried), the people closely followed Maradona’s 
thinking.  Before boarding the so-called ALBA 
train (the Spanish acronym for the Bolivarian 
Alliance for the People of Our America), that 
left from Buenos Aires for Mar del Plata along 
with then presidential candidate Evo Morales, the 
musician Manu Chao, and the Serbian film director 
Emir Kusturica, Diego told the media: “I ask 
Argentineans to understand that we are heading 
for dignity, to defend what is ours
It’s a matter 
of pride to be on this train in order to 
repudiate the trash that is Bush
If I had him 
under the goal, I’d tear his head off with a well 
placed ball.”  It was a statement of faith that 
the obsessed Boca Juniors fans accompanied with 
bands of street musicians and bass drums.

In December of 2007, after a game with Brazil, 
Maradona was in the locker room where he met 
Iran’s charge d’affaires, and expressed his 
admiration for President Ahmadinejad.  “I’ve 
already met Chávez and Fidel.  Now I want to get 
to know your president
I’m with the Iranians from 
the bottom of my heart, honestly I say: I’m with the people of Iran.”

Kusturica presented the documentary Maradona at 
the Cannes film festival in 2008, and spared no 
praise toward someone who is seen as a god by his 
followers.  He observed: “He creates magical 
moments.  If we were to compare soccer’s 
popularity in imperial Roman terms, he'd be 
qualified to be a god.”  Which led El Diez 
[Number Ten] to hurriedly respond that he didn’t 
feel like a god, “but if the people consider me 
one, I’m not going to contradict them.”  Maradona 
has altars in his honor in Naples, and after the 
God-granted goal against England (México, 1986), 
the Scottish Tartan Army team included him in 
their anthem.  And in Rosario (birthplace of Che 
and Messi), fans founded the Church of Maradona 
in 2003, its era beginning in 1960, the year El Diez was born.

Maradona’s political convictions and faith are 
something to watched.  Once, after hearing the 
Pope and seeing the golden ceilings in St. 
Peter’s Basilica, his voice echoed down the 
hallways of the Vatican: “The church – according 
to the press – assures us that it is worried 
about poor kids.  So: sell the ceilings, man!  Do something!”

Understanding something about destiny, the 
technical director of the Argentinean team dealt 
calmly with Bella’s bite.  And upon seeing that 
he'd been lodged in Room 606 at the Los Arcos* 
hospital, he took it as a sign of good luck.  Or 
is there anyone alive who doesn’t know that for 
Chinese gamblers, the number 6 stands for a dog, 
in the interpretation of dreams?

*Translator’s note: the Spanish word for a soccer goal is “arco.”

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