“From the hands of God to the fingers of shame”, read one headline in Latin America, referring to Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal against England at the 1986 World Cup. Maradona is no stranger to controversy, having once shot at journalists with an air rifle, and he has battled cocaine and alcohol addictions.
Diego Maradona may be a giant of football’s history, but even he must show respect to other fans at the World Cup, FIFA said on Friday.
Asked about complaints that the Argentine had made an obscene gesture at other fans after Argentina snatched a late victory over Nigeria on Wednesday, FIFA’s World Cup chief executive Colin Smith told reporters that the 57-year-old was a valued part of its Legends programme to promote the game.
“The players who helped write the history of football have a part to play,” Smith said.
“Diego Maradona, obviously one of the greatest footballers who ever lived, is a part of that.”
But, saying FIFA was aware of incidents such as that during Argentina’s vital group match against the Super Eagles in St. Petersburg, he added: “We would expect all players, former players, staff, fans, everyone to behave in a respectful manner.”
During the game, the former Argentine player drew attention with his antics in the stands, lapping up the adulation from fans, unveiling a poster of himself and ostensibly falling asleep at one point. Then, after Marcos Rojo’s 86th-minute winner secured Argentina’s place in the knockout round, he made a middle-finger gesture with both hands.