Reuters Soccer Blog
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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.
Players and coaches are going to have to grin (or rather whinge) and bear it after football’s rule-makers decided that preserving the game’s essence and traditions are more important than the grievances of a few unlucky losers.
Controversies such as Geoff Hurst’s third goal for England in the 1966 World Cup final, Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal at the 1986 World Cup and, more recently, Thierry Henry’s ball-juggling effort against Ireland, are etched into football’s history.
France ensured the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry will be at the World Cup in South Africa next year after winning through with a goal that has left Irish fans seething.
There was nothing wrong with the finish from William Gallas, but Thierry Henry admitted using his hand to keep the ball in play and commentators and Irish supporters are already talking of “The Hand of God II” and “The Hand of Henry” in reference to Diego Maradona in 1986.