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Maradona: The Golden Boy of Football
Diego Maradona, then-coach of the UAE's Al-Wasl Football Club, celebrates during the team's GCC Champions League semifinal match against Al Khor on May 31, 2012. (Vinod Divakaran/Wikimedia Commons)

Maradona: The Golden Boy of Football

Al-Mada, Iraq, November 27

When Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano published his famous book, “Football in Sun and Shadow,” the phrase he insisted on putting on the cover read: “Football is the mirror of the world, revealing a thousand stories on glory, exploitation, love, and misery…it represents the struggle between freedom and fear.” To Galeano, football was a choreographed war in which “11 men in shorts are the sword of the neighborhood, the city, or the nation” and wherein “old hatreds and old loves passed from father to son enter into combat.” Thanks to players like Maradona, and before him Pele and dozens of others, football has become a mirror to everything happening in the modern world: It provides people with a sense of identity and belonging; it allows people to fight over competing ideologies; and it has even been shaped by businesses, multinational corporations, and dirty money. What Maradona did for his country of Argentina not even a thousand Argentinian diplomats or policymakers could do. He brought Argentina to the homes of millions of viewers around the world, who watched him use his exceptional skills to manipulate and overtake his rivals on the field. Despite our preoccupation with the matches taking place inside the halls of the Iraqi parliament, we, in Iraq, also follow football. But at a time when the world is grieving the loss of legend Diego Maradona, who was nothing short of a magician in the world of football, we are unfortunately dealing with another “magician,” Nouri Al-Maliki, seeking to delude us that the political failures taking place during his eight years of service have been the fault of everyone but himself. If it weren’t for the international conspiracy against him, Al-Maliki claims, Baghdad would have been competing with Singapore, Tokyo and Berlin. And Al-Maliki isn’t alone; it seems like many of our politicians are suffering from amnesia that prevents them from remembering that our country is suffering from bankruptcy and corruption carried out under the delusion of progress and development. Maradona led his country, Argentina, to victory over most of the countries of the world. He scored hundreds of goals against his opponents on the field. Unfortunately, it seems as if our esteemed parliamentarians are seeking to score goals against their own people by serving their own interests instead of ours and introducing laws that further restrict our freedoms and liberties. –Ali Hussein (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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