Only A Game? - Altruistic Diego will always be my favourite

Diego Maradona is rumoured to be interested in becoming the head coach of the Palestinian football teams.
Diego Maradona is rumoured to be interested in becoming the head coach of the Palestinian football teams.

By the time you’re reading this, Diego Maradona could be the new manager of Palestine.

Bizarrely, the man, who millions regard as the greatest player of all time, was linked with the vacant Palestinian job this week.

Maradona is 53 years-old and it’s safe to say that his managerial career has not gone to plan.

In the mid 1990s Maradona spent brief spells with Argentine teams Textil Mandiyú and Racing Club de Avellaneda.

Argentina’s most famous number then took a long sabbatical from football management and it wasn’t until 2008 that he returned to manage the Argentine national squad.

Maradona left his position with Argentina in 2010 and in 2011 he became the manager of Dubai club Al Wasl FC but was sacked in 2012.

Let’s face it, Palestine and its people are recovering from an Israeli bombardment of its land which lasted 50 days and resulted in the deaths of 2,131 people on the Palestinian side (1,473 civilians, 279 militants, 379 unknown) and 72 on the Israeli side (66 soldiers and 6 civilians).

The Palestinian national side have never made it to a major event and during Operation Protective Edge they lost one of their greatest ever players, Ahed Zaqout, when he was killed by an Israeli bomb.

The vast majority of the Palestinian international footballers ply their trade in Palestine and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to try and play football in a country that is under constant occupation and threat from another country.

A handful of the players play for teams in Canada, Sweden, Iraq and Saudi Arabia but it’s safe to say they won’t be going to a World Cup anytime soon.

When looking at the Palestine job through the eyes of a football manager there are virtually no incentives at all.

Money, facilities and the technical ability of players would be miles away from what someone like Maradona would be used to but something tells me Maradona’s reason for wanting the job are much more altruistic than anything I’ve ever encountered before.

A 90 minute game of football isn’t going to give to the millions of Palestinian refugees the land the Israelis stole from them in 1947/48; it won’t stop the bombing and it most certainly will not stop people dying but it just might offer hope.

Maradona has been quoted in the past as saying that he loves the Palestinian people.

“I am the number one fan of the Palestinian people, I respect them and sympathize with them.”

“I promised the Palestinian football team to visit Palestine. I support this nation’s cause, since I grew up on struggle and standing against injustice.”

Maradona has been lambasted for his behaviour in the past and whilst I am not about to get into the rights and wrongs of it I don’t think anyone can doubt just how big his heart is.

Maradona is a very human, human being in the sense that he has made mistakes and I think it’s precisely because of his acute ability to be human that he is able to empathise with the Palestinian people.

It might take 1000 years for there to be lasting peace in the Middle East but if more people of Maradona’s stature stood up for what’s right and showed more altruism then maybe we wouldn’t have to wait so long.