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More Maradona in the UAE

September 3rd, 2012 · No Comments · Maradona, soccer, The National, UAE

Beginning to think this guy is like chewing gum on the UAE sneaker. Impossible to get rid of.

Diego Maradona, who fairly conclusively demonstrated, again, during the 2011-12 UAE Pro League season that he cannot effectively coach the game he played with such flair, was fired in June by the Dubai club Al Wasl …

But he is still here!

He will not go away!

Turns out, he will be in Dubai for at least another year, it seems, a development we covered thoroughly in The National. And let me show the ways.

Here is the story that came out of the midday press conference in Dubai in which that city’s Sports Council trotted out El Diego and said he would be filling the role of “honorary ambassador of sports”.

(Didn’t even know the job was open.)

He has been tabbed, by the most senior sheikhs in Dubai (Mohammed bin Rashid, the ruler, and Hamdan bin Mohammed, the crown prince), to talk up/pep up all things sporting. The phrase used was “to develop and promote sports in Dubai as a lifestyle choice”.

He promised he would “spare no efforts in helping the DSC to develop sports in Dubai and help them create future stars who will shine in international fields.”

And the charismatic little Argentine seemed pleased as punch to hang around another year and, I’m guessing, mostly shake hands.

And why not? We are fairly certain he has a very sweet gig in Dubai, from the posh residence by the sea to the domestic help and presumably another year of the tidy salary Al Wasl was going to give him to not coach their side for a second season.

Maradona made what might be a joke about how he wanted to “change my lifestyle; I want to wear a suit and attend meetings.” He has a pretty good sense of humor, actually, especially when it comes to needling folks. Like, say, Pele.

(We could practically compile a book, by now, on Maradona bagging on his co-Player of the (20th) Century. Many of the jibes relate to suggestions that the elderly Brazilian has mixed up his meds, which explains why Pele has said something Diego finds patently ridiculous. Like how Neymar is a better player than Messi.)

I bashed out a short comment piece suggesting that we in the UAE “just like having Diego Maradona around.”

This country adores celebrity as much as any, and more than most, and it also is soccer/football-mad, so the notion of bumping into the Century’s Co-Player at the mall and having him sign our Ferrari ballcaps … is heady stuff.

Gotta give Diego this: He’s almost always up for a grip-and-grin photo op with adoring fans.

I also suggested that the nature of the Pro League being what it is, in a month or two more than one team will be looking for a new coach, and might be tempted to call on our favorite Argentine, given that he’s already in town, to bring some attention to their club.

I also suggested he should resist the impulse, and continue to be a professional “celebrity greeter”. Not a bad gig.

And, finally, the kids over in the op-ed department cranked out a fairly snarky editorial about “Ambassador Maradona.” (Echoes of Citizen Kane there.)

Quoth the editorial: “During his astounding career and frenetic life, Diego Maradona has been called many things, quite a few of them printable. But the word ‘diplomatic’ has rarely, if ever, figured in discussions of the celebrated Argentine footballer.”

So, here he is and here he stays, and somehow more news will come out of it, and that can’t be all bad.


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