Diego Maradona – the world renowned football legend hailing from Argentina is widely known for his mesmerising skills as a player, however less is known about his unwavering support for Palestine issue and Palestinians.
Diego Maradona, who breathed his last and passed away a day earlier on November 25th at the age of 60 was an vocal supporter of Palestine cause and publicly voiced his opinion for Palestinian people.
Maradona’s support for Palestine continued even after his retirement from the game.
Upon hearing the news of his demise, several Palestinians took to social media to pay homage to the legend and express gratitude for his support to the people over decades.
“We are so sad for the death of one of the greatest footballers, ‘Maradona’, who is known for his support of the Palestine cause. Our condolences to his family and his lovers around the world,” wrote Dr Sami Abu Zuhri – Hamas spokesperson.
“In our hearts we were all Argentinian, imitating your dribbling and goals in the neighbourhoods of Palestine. I’m sure like other kids all over the world,” said Salem Barahmeh, another Palestinian.
The overwhelming Palestinian response on Maradona’s demise is an evident proof of the mutual respect and appreciation he shared with the people of Palestine.
He was publicly critical of the 2014 onslaught on Palestinian people by Israeli forces.
“What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is shameful,” he was quoted saying.
Meanwhile, on another occasion he termed himself as ‘number one fan of the Palestinian people’.
“I respect them and sympathize with them. I support Palestine without any fear,” he used to say.
Diego Maradona met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2018 in Moscow. During the short but meaningful interaction he once again reiterated his support for Palestine and its people.
“In my heart, I am Palestinian,” he said while embracing the Palestinian premier.
Maradona was also critical of United States and its role in various parts of the world, especially Syria.
“You don’t need to go to university to know that the United States wants to wipe Syria out of existence,” he said while criticizing US role in Syria.
During an interview, he boasted himself as “Che Guevara of the football world” as he could be engaged in a conversation on any issue whatsoever, whereas other footballers refrained from indulging in controversial, political topics.
Maradona was known for his anti-imperialist views that were often regarded as ‘socialist’ by his critics.
Throughout his lifetime he supported, advocated for progressive movements all across the globe and emerged as a noticeable voice for the oppressed.
Its because of his anti-imperialist opinions, he had a close relationship with several world leaders including late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, Cuba’s late President Fidel Castro, and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.