Russia 2018: Is Maradona A Racist?
Soccer legend, Diego Maradona is being dragged into a racism controversy at the ongoing World Cup in Russia.
British TV staff including ITV’s Jacqui Oatley reported seeing Maradona interact with South Korea fans during Argentina’s Group D match with Iceland.
Oatley tweeted on Saturday that after the fans called Maradona’s name, the 57-year-old “obliged with a smile, kiss and wave. Then pulled his eyes to the side in a clearly racist gesture.”
However, in a Facebook message posted early on Sunday, Maradona gave his version of the story – although he did not deny making the gesture.
“Today, in the stadium, among so many demonstrations of affection from the people, I was struck by a group of people around a fan who filmed us,” Maradona wrote.
“I saw an Asian boy wearing an Argentina T-shirt,” he added. “I, from afar, tried to tell them how nice it seemed to me that even the Asians cheer for us. And that’s all, guys, come on.”
Fifa statutes prohibit acts of discrimination by teams, officials and supporters at games it organises. Football’s governing body have not made any comment beyond referring to their existing anti-discrimination rules.
Maradona has also apologised for smoking a cigar in the VIP seats during Argentina’s 1-1 draw, in contravention of a Fifa ban on smoking at World Cup stadiums. “I honestly did not know that no one can smoke in the stadiums. I apologise to everyone,” he wrote on Facebook.
The former World Cup winner is working as a pundit for Italian and Venezuelan television during the tournament in Russia.