Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Diego Maradona to Coach Argentina

If this report (in Portuguese) is true, then Diego Maradona is going to be the new coach of the Argentine national men's soccer team (and as I write, it's now confirmed in English, here). It's daring and bold, to say the least, and no doubt a major PR move, guaranteed to get Argentina completely wound up about their team in a way they haven't been since Maradona was on the national team. He is an individual whose popularity is rivaled only by Evita. Imagine if Derek Jeter were a national hero rather than just a Yankee fan idol (with Jeffrey Maier as the Hand of God), and you only begin to get into the hero-worship of Maradona. When I was in Argentina, I seriously saw a soccer game on TV which was split-screen: on the left was the actual game, and on the right was a camera focusing on Maradona (in the stands that day) the entire game, just to capture his reactions.

This will be interesting, to say the least. Among other things, Maradona is a former coke fiend with an explosive temper whose most basic life events make national headlines in Argentina, where the population holds him as highly in Argentina as Evita. He could be great, though I hope not; I like him about as much as I like Jeter, and his fans are perhaps even more obnoxious (Maradona is not, never was, and never will be the greatest soccer player; that was Pele. You'd think a goal total of 307 vs. 1280 would be enough to settle that). I just don't see this working out, and if it's as embarassing for both the men's team and Maradona as I hope it will be, then this should be fun. However, if Maradona is successful, this will be really ugly, and Argentine fans will become even more intolerable than they already are (which is really hard to even begin to imagine).

...UPDATE: Given the coach and the player, guess we're virtually guaranteed of seeing this again...