EspañolI’m a woman, let me warn you, because I’m going to talk a little about soccer. Diego Armando Maradona was the best player in the history of the sport, leaving behind personalities like Di Stéfano, Pelé, Zidane and other gifted athletes. He was not only the best player, but also one of the most intelligent people in the soccer industry.
Why do I say this? Because he says and does what the market demands. The former head coach of Argentina’s national team is now a TV host, along with ultra-Kirchnerista journalist Victor Hugo Morales. Together, they put on a show called “De Zurda,”a joint-production from Argentina’s public Channel 7 and Venezuela’s Telesur.
The show, broadcast nightly from Rio de Janeiro, focuses on the World Cup and offers analysis and interviews with personalities from the world of sport, culture, and politics.
The superstar’s fee is the modest, socialist sum of €4 million for a two-year contract, according to the Spanish website confidencial.com. Of course, guests on the show so far are figures that flirt with Maduro’s socialism or Correa’s interventionism. They even interviewed Evo Morales!
This is why I say Maradona’s smart. He has Che Guevara tattooed on one arm, and is an admirer and frequent guest of Castro in Cuba. He has criticized the capitalist “bourgeois” and even the Vatican’s gold. However, his business ventures after retiring from professional soccer – and off drugs – have always been accompanied by hefty contracts and fat checks.
We don’t see him off in Kenya or Niger, in Bangladesh or the Philippines. Instead, he’s at the United Arab Emirates, or in Brazil, selling what people in these countries demand. In Venezuela and Argentina, what sells is “being progressive” and defending the rhetoric of Hugo Chávez.
It must be of little importance to Maradona that what he supports has harmed thousands of communities, drowned people in misery, created shortages of basic goods, and attacked the republican principles of the separation of powers.
In conclusion, we can summarize his behavior with a comment from Cathy Fulop, a Venezuelan television host based in Argentina: “Everyone is free to support whoever … at a time when there is a conflict so pronounced in Venezuela as the one from the students; the unrest that exists; the shortages, insecurity, lack of education, and human rights violations. Television programs continue being shut down, and journalists continue being silenced; everyday there are more limitations in my country. It is losing a once beautiful democracy.”