As tributes pour in from around the world after the tragic death of the Argentinian football legend Diego Armando Maradona, many Palestinians are also paying tribute to his support for the Palestinian Cause.
The 60-year-old former Argentinian player, World Cup winner and one of football’s greatest players of all time, Maradona, died from a heart attack on Wednesday, following years of health problems.
Fans around the world expressed their shock and profound sadness over the passing of their beloved legendary footballer. Palestinians were not an exception.
For Palestinian football fans, Maradona represented more than a great player. He was something else entirely.
Maradona has been hailed as an anti-imperialist, left-wing socialist, who has supported progressive movement and who unapologetically supported Palestine, even after hanging up his football boots.
“In Palestine, you cannot hate Maradona. Your only option is to love him and you couldn’t have any negative opinion about him,” Palestinian journalist and author Ramzy Baroud said. “Maradona inspired something in us as a collective – a man of small built, from a terribly poor background, brown like us, fiery like us and passionate like us, making his way to the top of the world. For us, it was not about football or sports. It was about hope. It felt as if anything was possible.”
“We are so sad for the death of one of the greatest footballers, ‘Maradona’, who is known for his support of the #Palestine cause,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri tweeted.
Maradona previously described himself as “the number one fan of the Palestinian people .. I respect them and sympathize with them.”
In 2014, he criticised the Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip and described it as “shameful” whilst expressing outrage over the attacks.
In July 2018, Maradona met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow.
He embraced Abbas and told him his famous words: “In my heart, I am Palestinian.”
Rest in Peace, Diege Armando Maradona.Source : Days of Palestine