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Maradona no more of a cheat than ‘hard men’

June 12, 2010

SOCCER-WORLD

Diego Maradona’s appeal for fair play has had certain sections of the British media sniggering like naughty school boys.

They find it amusing that, 24 years on, the man who scored the so-called “Hand of God” goal at the 1986 World Cup and is now coach of Argentina could himself make such a request. One television reporter from a well-known cable channel openly labelled Maradona a cheat.

These people need to have another look at what happened not only at the 1986 World Cup but also throughout most of Maradona’s career.

Maradona played before soccer’s authorities decided to clamp down on the tackle from behind. The Argentina captain was repeatedly scythed down, butchered, kicked and elbowed and the perpetrators not only went unpunished but were often labelled “hard men” by the media as if there was some kind of merit to their behaviour.

In the same game in which he allegedly “cheated” England, Maradona received a blatant elbow in the face which went unpunished.

Yet, on one of the rare occasions when Maradona benefitted from bad refeering, there was a massive stink.

Maradona’s fair play appeal was merely an appeal to referees to protect players such as Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria and Carlos Tevez from the unfair punishment their coach suffered throughout his playing career.

“When the fair play ‘slogan’ was introduced in 1990 I was kicked so hard they almost knocked my head off against Cameroon,” Maradona said. “Let there really be fair play, let the referees understand what the words fair play mean.”

There seems nothing unreasonable in those words.

Maradona is no more of a cheat than the players who kicked and fouled him.

PHOTO: Argentina’s coach Diego Maradona reacts during the 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match against Nigeria at the Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg June 12, 2010. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

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