Diego Maradona’s Dark Side: The Hand of Satan

A year after his death, millions mourn the loss of football legend Diego Maradona. The dark chapters of his life are easily forgotten in awe. It’s about domestic violence, rape allegations and Mafia caresses.

A year ago, millions of people around the world mourn Diego Maradona. Many of them come together again today, still stunned by the death of the football legend. The southern Italian city of Naples is unveiling three bronze statues in honor of Maradona on the anniversary of its hero’s death. The Argentine is still worshiped like a deity. Many, but not all. Because now rape allegations and charges of human trafficking against the former professional and his entourage are public. The allegations are not surprising. The dark side of Diego Maradona runs like a red thread through his turbulent life.

Buenos Aires, November 25, 2020. Thousands of people come together in the Argentine capital to commemorate their hero. “Thank you Diego” is written on electronic billboards above the city freeway and in subway entrances. In Naples, where Maradona celebrated great success with the SCC in the 80s and 90s, the images are the same. After the first championship title, the Argentine becomes a saint there. “Anyone who criticizes Maradona is criticizing God,” says Vesuvius. Still.

Even Pope Francis paid tribute to the late football idol as the “poet of football” at the beginning of the year. “Maradona was a poet on the field, a great champion who brought joy to millions of people, both in Argentina and in Naples,” said the head of the Catholic Church in an interview with “La Gazzetta dello Sport”. In Argentina, Maradona’s first apartment becomes national memorial declared, in Naples the football stadium is named after him.

“I was just a girl”

“The whole football planet is in shock,” wrote the Spanish sports newspaper “Marca” after the news of his death. “Like all legends, Maradona will live forever”, believes the Italian newspaper “Tuttosport”. And the “Clarin” from Argentina makes it biblical: “A man who created himself, like a David who got up every morning to throw the saving stone into the giant’s eye again and again.” Many emotional obituaries are written. Often peppered with a lot of admiration, amusement, praise and recognition. Seldom really reflected, rarely with sufficient attention to the dark chapters in the life of the Argentine. Also from this medium. Also from this author.

Maradona’s drug abuse is well known and is therefore often discussed. During his time in Barcelona in the mid-80s, the professional footballer took cocaine for the first time and then used the drug more and more frequently during his time in Naples. He gets used to an unhealthy routine: play on Sundays, party until Wednesday and then sweat it all out. Maradona soon has cocaine under control and the drug is regulated by another power that puts the footballer under its shield: the Camorra. Naples’ powerful mafia supplies Maradona with cocaine and prostitutes, in return he opens Camorra restaurants and lets himself be photographed with the mafia bosses. The Argentine enjoys the attention and connection with those in power and does not question their crimes. In 1994 he was excluded from the World Cup in the USA because he failed a doping test.

Again and again, Maradona takes withdrawal treatments. In 2000 one of these detoxes took him to Havana, Cuba. There the then 40-year-old met 16-year-old Mavys Álvarez Rego and had a sexual relationship with her. A video shows him in bed with the minor, allegedly giving her alcohol and drugs until she became addicted. In September, the now 37-year-old told American TV station América TeVé from Miami: “That was the biggest mistake of my life. I was only a girl. I was pure. He was a stranger, he was rich and he paid me attention. I couldn’t say no. ”

Human trafficking and rape?

Less than a week ago Álvarez Rego testified in Argentina that she was a victim of human trafficking in the vicinity of the deceased footballer. The defendants deny the allegations, the trial is still ongoing. It’s about a trip that she took with Maradona to Argentina 20 years ago when she was 17 years old. Álvarez Rego claims to Argentine media that she was not allowed to leave her hotel room for almost three months during this visit and that Maradona asked her to undergo breast augmentation, which she did, even though she did not want to and did not have her parents’ permission .

The trip from Cuba to Argentina is a multiple breach of the law. Cubans are not allowed to leave the communist-ruled country at this time, and Álvarez Rego is still a minor. The Cuban woman says that Maradona introduced her to Fidel Castro, with whom the football icon was so closely connected that, according to his own words, he became a kind of “father figure” for him. The Cuban President, who has since passed away, then issued her with a special permit for the trip.

Two days ago, Álvarez Rego expanded her allegations against Maradona to include allegations of violence, abuse and rape. During the trial, the Cuban woman said that her relationship with Maradona lasted “between four and five years” but that she had been ill-treated and had experienced physical violence on several occasions. “I loved him, but I hated him too, I even thought of suicide,” said Álvarez Rego.

Then Maradona allegedly raped her in his clinic in Havana while her mother was in the next room. “He’s covering my mouth, he’s raping me, I don’t want to think about it too much,” Álvarez Rego told the press about the process. “I stopped being a girl, all my innocence was stolen from me. It’s tough. You stop experiencing the innocent things that a girl of this age has to experience.”

“What an asshole you are”

Allegations of abuse against Maradona are not new. In 2014, the Spanish newspaper “El Mundo” reported on a leaked video allegedly showing the then 53-year-old Argentine football legend beating his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Rocío Oliva. “Stop, stop beating me, Diego,” says the audio track of the first-person video. According to an Argentine journalist Maradona admits at the timeto be the man in the movie and says he threw Oliva’s cell phone on the floor. However, he insists that he didn’t hit his ex. Oliva had previously accused the football icon of domestic violence against her.

Not only women experience violence from Maradona. A few months before the video goes public, the Argentine slaps a journalist in front of the camera. The former number 10 is said to have attacked the man because he had “winked” at his ex-partner Veronica Ojeda. In 1994 Maradona fired an air rifle at photographers and reporters from his country house in Buenos Aires, injuring four people. In 1998 he was finally sentenced to two years and 10 months probation.

During the 2010 World Cup, the then coach of the Argentine national team drove his car over the leg of a cameraman and then cursed him with the words: “What an asshole you are. How can you put your leg where it can be run over, man ? ” In 2015, after a charity game, Maradona kicked a folder and knocked a journalist’s cell phone out of the hand. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he will speak to South Korean fans racist gestures did in the stadium.

For some, more Satan than God

Advice and help with domestic violence

  • In case of acute threat: emergency number 110
  • Advice in crisis situations: The helpline “Violence against women” (08000 116 016, free call)
  • Telephone for children and young people (Tel .: 0800 / 111-0-333 or 116-111; Mon-Sat from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
  • That Helpline also offers online advice via email or chat.
  • Women’s shelters offer protection against threats and the employees can advise on further steps.

The list of Maradona’s derailments is long and can be continued almost indefinitely. It’s not about spoiling his reputation or discrediting his footballing legacy. Nobody does only good, nobody is just bad. But on today’s “Orange Day”, the International Day Against Violence against Women, many places mourn again without reflection for a man who probably did terrible things to some women. Such acts are allowed in a still misogynly patriarchal society – especially in Football – not to be forgotten.

Admittedly, Diego Maradona was enthusiastic, he was a terrific footballer. A myth. A hero to many. But he was certainly not a saint or a god. For some people, he was more like Satan.

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