ABOUT THE FIELDS—MARADONA
“We” could not win the World Cup， since no British team had even qualified1 for the finals in the A. So the British media decided2 Falklands War instead， with the Argentinian captain Diego Maradona cast in the role of the headlines.
Maradona was kicked out of the World Cup after failing a drugs test. He was found to have traces of the banned substance， ephedrine， He might have taken it to help him lose weight fast before the World Cup finals began. But one thing is for certain， he did not take it to make him lay the kind of football with which he has bewitched the world for a decade. They have not invented a drug that can make you play like Maradona. If they had， even England and Scotland could have qualified for the finals with the aid of a cornershop chemist. But the British media were not interested in any of that. To them Maradona’s expulsion from the tournament proved he was “Dirty-cheat Diego”， and they dragged out every has-been British footballer to kick him when he was down.
Gary Lineker said it was a case of “ good riddance “， and Terry Butcher announced that Maradona should never have been allowed to play in the World Cup in the first place ， drug conviction meant he was setting a terrible example to young fans. Unlike Mr Butcher， who set them such a fine example by head-butting Tunisians on the field while playing for England.
Of course， the bile displayed by the likes of Lineker and Butcher came purely4 from their sense of affronted5 sportsmanship， and had “nothing” to do with the fact that these players were part of the English team beaten by Maradona in the quarter final of the 1986 World Cup， He humiliated6 England in that game， not with the Hand of God， but with the second goal， the dazzling run past half of the team that made the Fenwicks and Butchers of the English defence look like the artless shit kickers they were. Linker won the Golden Boot in that World Cup by scoring six goals. But nobody outside his native Leicester remembers any of them. The ones Maradona scored against England and Belgium on the way to winning the tournament will live in the memory forever.
The bashing bulldogs of the British press have been waiting for revenge ever since， and they sunk their teeth into Maradona with relish7。 Maradona has been playing on drugs for most of his career. He has had to pump himself full of the pain-killer cortisone， to enable him to play on with the countless8 injuries inflicted9 by the Butchers he found wherever he played—in Argentina， in Spain， i cortisone is legal. Indeed the rich men who held his contracts insisted he take the drugs， their bank balances needed him on the pitch， regardless of the damage which cortisone can do to the body in later life.
Maradona has always cultivated his relationship with the poor and the oppressed. In Naples he made himself the champion of the backward south of Italy against the rich north When Argentina played the Italians in Naples in the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup， Maradona even appealed to Neapolitans to support his team “What has Italy ever done for you?”
Maradona has incurred10 the wrath11 of no less a bigot than the Pope， every time His Holiness makes a speech about helping12 the poor， Maradona demands that the Vatican should give them its own vast wealth. And he has often fallen foul13 of the Argentinian oligarchy14. When he arrived in the A for the World Cup， Maradona said that， first， he was glad to be in a country where they played football with their hands as well as their feet， and second that he had a message for Argentina’s president Carlos Menem: “Instead of swanning around here and boasting to everybody that we are going to win the World Cup， he should think of the poor people at home， on the streets and without jobs….”