His legend went far beyond the simple football framework.
With the death of Argentine football star Diego Armando Maradona this Wednesday, it is also a political symbol of the South American left who is leaving.
Over the course of his life, the “God” of football has met on several occasions such emblematic and controversial characters as Cuban Fidel Castro or former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
On the French side, Jean-Luc Mélenchon hailed "a comrade in the fight".
"Fortune or not, Maradona had remained on the side of the people", wrote on Twitter the leader of rebellious France, who found himself accused of making political recovery.
#Maradona was also a fighting companion.
Fortune or not Maradona had remained on the side of the people.
- Jean-Luc Mélenchon (@JLMelenchon) November 25, 2020
The political scientist
, executive director of the Opalc (Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean) of Sciences-po, enlightens us on the political commitment of the former playmaker of the Argentinian team.
How would you qualify Maradona politically?
He, very clearly, was positioning himself on the left.
It is enough to see his political associations and his public positions, especially when he ended his football career.
They were all clearly marked on the left, alongside Lula and then Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Chavez in Venezuela, Castro in Cuba, Kirchners in Argentina, etc.
I think it is also linked to the own trajectory of these leaders.
Most of them had a similar background to that of Maradona, born in a very poor area of Argentina and who had a great social rise: Lula is a former worker, Chavez was a former soldier ... This origin may have conditioned his catch of future positions, marked by an affirmation of the sovereignty of Latin America, the critique of American imperialism, and the reduction of inequalities.
Diego Maradona and Fidel Castro, April 15, 2013./REUTERS
I associate Maradona with this generation of left-wing leaders from the 1990s to 2000s in Latin America, who have already passed over politically and are no longer in business.
Even if he was not a politician strictly speaking since he never ran for office, there was a real convergence of views between them in the 2000s and they saw each other very regularly.
How does he differ from the Brazilian Pelé, for example?
Very clearly, he had no shame in displaying his positions, unlike Pelé who was much closer to the institutions and the center-right.
Several athletes were also born in a modest environment but they did not have the same commitment afterwards.
What especially distinguishes Maradona is his refusal of conventions and the fact that he did not hesitate to mark his difference, even if one can agree or not with his fights.
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How did he manage to reconcile a taste for money with a political sensibility on the left?
He is a character who has his contradictions, there is also the question of his drug addiction.
In general, his excesses are part of the man, even if this question of the relationship between money and the left takes on greater proportions with him given the enormous sums he was able to amass during his career.
Death of Diego Maradona: a life between angel and demon
But public opinion does not hold it against him and he is the object of real adulation in Argentina where he is considered an idol, as shown by the establishment of a three-day national mourning.
The character who has been hailed since yesterday is above all the great sportsman, who also had a commitment unlike others.
VIDEO. Death of Maradona: Argentines celebrate the memory of "Diego"
Death of Maradona: Argentines celebrate the memory of "Diego"
Globally, Argentina is associated with Maradona.
If you ask a resident abroad who represents Argentina, their name will come up much more often than that of the Argentine president.
Do you think that a French political leader like Mélenchon is legitimate to qualify him as a "combat fighter"?
I think it is above all the declaration of a politician who pays homage to Maradona, and that Mélenchon thus extends the close proximity with the South American left that he has always displayed.
But, as far as I know, Maradona did not have any particular political ties with him.
The Argentine presidency also had the very enthusiastic press release from the Elysee Palace translated and published on its website paying tribute to Maradona.
This is something that has a much greater impact on international politics.