Medical Staff To Be Tried For Maradona Death

In this file photo taken on November 02, 2019, Gimnasia y Esgrima team coach Diego Armando Maradona gestures to supporters as he leaves the field after an Argentina First Division Superliga football match against Estudiantes, at El Bosque stadium, in La Plata, Buenos Aires province, Argentina.  ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

 

Eight medical personnel will stand trial for alleged criminal negligence in the death of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, according to a court ruling made public on Wednesday.

No date has been set for the trial of the staff over Maradona’s death in 2020, which prosecutors say was due to “omissions” by his caregivers who abandoned him “to his fate” during home hospitalization.

Maradona died aged 60 while recovering from brain surgery for a blood clot, and after decades of battles with cocaine and alcohol addictions.

He was found dead in bed two weeks after going under the knife, in a rented house in an exclusive Buenos Aires neighborhood to where he was brought after being discharged from the hospital.

He was found to have died of a heart attack.

READ ALSO: Sadio Mane Signs Three-Year Contract With Bayern Munich

A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina’s public prosecutor concluded last year that Maradona’s treatment was rife with “deficiencies and irregularities.”

It said the footballer “would have had a better chance of survival” with adequate treatment in an appropriate medical facility.

The experts found his caregivers had abandoned the idolized player to his fate for a “prolonged, agonizing period” leading up to his death.

‘Reckless’ Treatment

Charged in the case are neurosurgeon and family doctor Leopoldo Luque, psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, psychologist Carlos Diaz, medical coordinator Nancy Forlini and four others including two nurses.

Prosecutors had asked that the defendants be tried for negligent homicide, stating they “were the protagonists of an unprecedented, totally deficient and reckless hospitalization at home.”

They risk sentences ranging from eight to 25 years in prison. All have denied responsibility.

An investigation was opened following a complaint filed by two of Maradona’s five children against Luque, whom they blame for their father’s deterioration after the operation.

Maradona is widely considered one of the greatest footballers in history.

The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star suffered from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died.

He became an idol to millions of Argentines after he inspired the South American country to only their second World Cup triumph in 1986.

The court ruling ordering the composition of a trial bench came as Argentina celebrated its Day of the Footballer commemorating Maradona’s performance in the 1986 quarter final against England — when he scored the infamous “hand of God” goal and then the “Goal of the Century” as voted in a FIFA poll.

His death shocked fans around the world, and tens of thousands queued to file past his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires amid three days of national mourning.

AFP

Maradona’s ‘Hand Of God’ World Cup Jersey Auctioned For $9.3m

In this file photo taken on April 20, 2022 a football shirt worn by Argentina’s Diego Maradona during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final match against England, is pictured during a photocall at Sotheby’s auction house in London ahead of its sale.  ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

 

The jersey that Argentina football legend Diego Maradona wore while scoring twice against England in the 1986 World Cup, including the infamous “hand of God” goal, was auctioned for $9.3 million, a record for any item of sports memorabilia, Sotheby’s said Wednesday.

Seven bidders vied for the garment in an auction that began April 20 and ended Wednesday morning, Sotheby’s said.

“This historic shirt is a tangible reminder of an important moment not only in the history of sports but in the history of the 20th century,” Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles Brahm Wachter said in a statement after the sale.

“This is arguably the most coveted football shirt to ever come to auction, and so it is fitting that it now holds the auction record for any object of its kind,” he said.

READ ALSO: South Korea To Play Brazil In Pre-World Cup Friendly

The jersey had been owned by opposing midfielder Steve Hodge, who swapped his jersey with Maradona after England lost 2-1.

Hodge, whose autobiography is titled “The man with Maradona’s shirt,” has for the past 20 years loaned the jersey to be on public display at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

The quarter-final showdown became etched in football lore for Maradona’s two goals — one notorious and one sublime — in Mexico City’s seething Aztec Stadium.

The first came shortly after half-time when Hodge, on the edge of the England penalty area, intercepted a pass and flicked the ball back towards goal.

Maradona, running into the box, rose with England’s goalkeeper Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the net. He later said the goal had been scored “a little with the head of Maradona, a little with the hand of God.”

Soon after, Maradona left five English defenders in his wake before gliding past Shilton and slotting home for a strike that was voted “Goal of the Century” in a 2002 FIFA poll.

Argentina went on to win the final and Maradona, who died from a heart attack in 2020, became worshipped in his home country.

Jersey Mix-Up?

In this file photo taken on April 20, 2022 Sotheby’s technicians adjust a football shirt worn by Argentina’s Diego Maradona during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final match against England, during a photocall at Sotheby’s auction house in London ahead of its sale.  ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

 

Maradona’s daughter cast doubt on the sale earlier this month when she claimed that the shirt put up for auction had been the one her father wore in the goalless first half, not the second when he scored his two goals.

“This former player thinks he has my dad’s second-half jersey, but it’s a mix-up. He has the one from the first half,” his daughter Dalma said.

Sotheby’s insisted they had the right shirt, though.

A Sotheby’s spokeswoman told AFP: “There was indeed a different shirt worn by Maradona in the first half, but there are clear differences between that and what was worn during the goals.

“And so, prior to putting this shirt for sale, we did extensive diligence and scientific research on the item to make sure it was the shirt worn by Maradona in the second half for the two goals.”

The photomatching process had involved matching the shirt “to both goals examining unique details on various elements of the item, including the patch, stripes, and numbering.”

It added that Maradona himself had acknowledged the provenance of the shirt himself, in his book “Touched by God,” and he recalls giving it to Hodge at the end of the match.

The previous record for a game-worn shirt from any sport was $5.6 million, set in 2019 for a jersey Babe Ruth wore while on the New York Yankees.

Until now the auction record for any sports memorabilia was the original autograph manuscript of the Olympic Manifesto from 1892, which sold at Sotheby’s for $8.8 million in December 2019.

AFP

FIRST 11: Serena Williams’ Chelsea Ownership Push+Top Sports Stories This Week

 

With the sanctions on Russian businesses biting harder, the quest for a new Chelsea owner has been ramped up. This time, tennis icon Serena Williams and F1 great Lewis Hamilton, are the ones pushing to own a stake in the Premier League club.  

The Super Eagles also knew their opponents for the 2023 AFCON qualifiers just as the team’s former coach Gernot Rohr awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack.  These and more are some of the top sports stories covered in First 11 this week.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Bidders Set To Discover Their Fate

Condolences Pour As Ronaldo Loses Baby

We kick off from England where torrents of condolence messages have been poured in for Cristiano Ronaldo following his son’s death. The former Real Madrid star and wife confirmed their baby boy’s demise in a social media post.

Manchester United, his former clubs, players, and fans thronged social media to comfort the multiple Champions League winner over the sad incident.

The Portuguese star was excused from United’s tie with Liverpool earlier in the week. He, however, was available for selection as the Red Devils lost to Arsenal on Saturday.

Maguire Gets Bomb Threat

Still in Manchester United. Team captain Harry Maguire received a bomb threat but it was unknown who was behind it.

Cheshire Constabulary swept the 29-year-old’s home to ensure his safety. Maguire was up for selection against the Gunners.

The English defender, who stays with his fiancee and two kids, is having a turbulent campaign and has been the subject of stinging criticism from pundits and jeers from fans.

Man United Name Coach

Meanwhile, Manchester United has appointed Erik ten Hag as their manager next season.

The 52-year-old, who has signed a three-year contract, faces a huge task to revive the Red Devils’ fortunes after a fifth consecutive trophyless season. The Dutchman becomes the fifth permanent manager at Old Trafford since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 sent the 20-time English champions into decline.

Drogba, Others Inducted Into EPL Hall of Fame

Equally, Manchester United legend, Paul Scholes was in the news this week. The Englishman joined Didier Drogba and Sergio Aguero as the latest inductee into the EPL Hall of Fame.

Vincent Kompany, Ian Wright, and Peter Schmeichel alongside Wayne Rooney and Patrick Vieira are also in the “Class of 2022” inductees.

Serena, Hamilton Join Chelsea Bid

For Man United’s rivals, Chelsea, the sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich over Russia’s war with Ukraine are set to cause major changes in the team. The club has been up for sale and tennis icon Serena Williams as well as Formula 1 legend Lewis Hamilton have expressed interest in having a stake in the London side.

They will be investing about £20m into a consortium to buy Chelsea and both are part of a group of investors backing the European champions’ takeover offer spearheaded by Sir Martin Broughton.

Serena and Hamilton have each pledged £10m to the bid. Lord Coe is believed to be part of the British-led consortium.

Russia, Belarussian Players Banned From Wimbledon

Aside from football, the Russian-Ukraine war is creating ripples in other sports. Earlier in the week, Russian players were barred from Wimbledon. Belarussian players were also affected, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) said.

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev; Aryna Sabalenka, and women’s four Victoria Azarenka are some of the top players affected. The move drew wide criticism from players, fans, and others stakeholders in the tennis world.

But Russian officials have rejected the ban, describing it as “unacceptable”.

Nigeria Paired For AFCON Qualifiers

In Nigeria, the Super Eagles were paired with Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and either Sao Tome or Mauritius in the qualifiers for next year’s AFCON. The draws were held in Jo’burg, South Africa, and qualifications for the tournament will start in May.

The Super Eagles, who failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, will also be aiming to make amends for their early exit at the last AFCON. The Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 editions and won bronze in Egypt in 2019.

Rohr Awaits FIFA Verdict

The development came as a former coach of the team, Gernot Rohr, awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack. Rohr had reported the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to the football body for breaching contractual terms.

Reports suggest that FIFA had concluded their investigations and are set to deliver judgment on the $1m claims being made by former Niger Republic gaffer. The Franco-German had met all conditions in his contract but was sacked with one year left in the deal. While the NFF said it would pay Rohr his salary until the end of his contract, the ex-Niger boss took the NFF to FIFA. He is seeking compensation for his ‘unfair’ dismissal.

Kano Pillars Sanctioned, Banished

On the local scene, Kano Pillars were sanctioned for fans’ hooliganism. The former Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions were fined N9m and banished to Abuja for the rest of the season following the incident which took place last weekend. The club’s fans have, however, condemned the attack which led to the destruction of the visiting team’s bus.

Pele Hospitalised Again

Away from Nigeria, football great Pele was hospitalized in Sao Paulo as part of his treatment for colon cancer.

But the clinical condition of Edson Arantes do Nascimento is “good and stable, and he should be discharged from hospital in the next few days,” the Albert Einstein Hospital said on Tuesday.

Before his diagnosis of colon cancer, which led to Pele being hospitalized for a month last year, the former star of Santos and the Brazilian team was hospitalized in Paris in 2019 and transferred to Sao Paulo to have a kidney stone removed.

Five years before then, he was in intensive care due to a urinary tract infection that forced him to undergo dialysis on his left kidney. The right one was removed in the 1970s due to an injury when he was still a player.

Maradona Shirt Auction Opens

The auction for the jersey worn by Pele’s late friend, Diego Maradona, when he scored twice against England in the 1986 World Cup, including the infamous “hand of God” goal, kicked off with a bid of over $5 million.

Sotheby’s is selling the blue number 10 Argentina shirt in an online sale that runs until May 4. Hours after bidding opened, the site showed that the first offer of £4 million ($5.2 million) — matching the low end of the auction house’s pre-sale estimate — had been registered. That would set a new record price for a football jersey at auction.

The record for a game-worn shirt from any sport is $5.6 million, set in 2019 for a jersey Babe Ruth wore while on the New York Yankees.

Long Live Maradona! World Honors ‘Golden Kid’ One Year After Death

Walter Rotundo (C) poses for a photo with his twins daughters Mara (L) and Dona, named in honour of the football star Diego Maradona, in front of murals painted outside of Diego Maradona stadium in Buenos Aires, on November 16, 2021. TOMAS CUESTA / AFP

 

From a bronze statue unveiled in Naples to humble offerings of flowers at his childhood home in a Buenos Aires slum, people around the world mourned the death one year ago Thursday of football great Diego Maradona.

Fans, players, coaches, clubs, and loved ones paid homage to the man revered for his talent and adored for his grandiose life and legacy.

From Villa Fiorito, a poor neighborhood of Buenos Aires where Maradona grew up, to Italy’s Naples, where he spent several years of his stellar career, and India, tributes abounded.

On football pitches in Argentina, players arranged themselves in a “10” formation to honor the famous jersey number of the man nicknamed the “Pibe de Oro” or Golden Kid, as fans chanted “Marado, Marado!”

Outside his humble childhood home, bouquets of flowers and messages piled up — one reading: “You gave us heaven.”

“Maradona was the voice of the Argentine people. We will miss him and love him all our lives,” said fan Jose Maria Fernandez, through tears.

READ ALSOManchester United Reach Deal With Ralf Rangnick Over Managerial Position


View of a football with an image of late Argentine football legend Diego Armando Maradona during a homage on the first anniversary of his death, in Montevideo, on November 25, 2021.
Dante Fernandez / AFP

 

At the cemetery in Bella Vista, where his remains are, fans defied heavy rain to pay tribute at a giant graffiti inscription reading: “Here rests D10S” — a play on the Spanish word for god, “Dios.” Only family was allowed inside.

In Kolkota, India, a statue of Maradona was decorated with flowers, while in the southern Kerala state, fans gathered at a hotel where the footballer stayed in 2012 and which has become something of a shrine.

“We are all Maradona fans and we miss him a lot,” Ravindran Veleimbra, owner of the Hotel Blue Nile in Kannur, told AFP.

‘Football’s great god’ 

A life-size bronze statue depicting late Argentine soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona by Italian sculptor Domenico Sepe is seen outside the eponym stadium in Naples on November 25, 2021 in Naples.Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

In Naples, where Maradona is almost as much of an icon as in Buenos Aires, a bronze statue of the athlete was inaugurated outside the Napoli stadium — renamed in his honor following his death.

Another will be unveiled inside the stadium on Sunday so that “players will be able to touch the hands and feet of football’s great god,” said Napoli football club president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Maradona died of a heart attack a year ago Thursday aged 60, weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.

The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona, and Napoli star had long battled cocaine and alcohol addictions and was suffering from liver, kidney, and cardiovascular disorders when he died.

His death shocked fans around the world and tens of thousands lined up to file past his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires during three days of national mourning.

“It’s been a year since the world has been more horrible because you are no longer here,” Dalma Maradona, the star striker’s eldest daughter, wrote on Twitter Thursday.

‘Hand of God’ 

 

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A post shared by Pelé (@pele)

Brazilian football great Pele paid tribute to his fellow legend on Instagram, writing: “One year without Diego. Friends forever.”

And Lionel Messi, who captains the Argentine 11 like Maradona before him, wrote on social media: “Diego Eternal” with a photo of him wearing the national jersey with Maradona’s face on it.

He may be dead, but in Argentina, Maradona is everywhere — from ubiquitous murals to television series about his life and even a “church” bearing his name.

In a country where football is a religion, he is a god.

Maradona’s two goals in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, which saw Argentina triumph over England just four years after the Falklands War, made him an instant hero.

He is perhaps remembered as much for his “Hand of God” goal — which illegally came off his hand in what he ascribed to supernatural intervention — as for his second in the same match against England, which would later become known as the “Goal of the Century.”

His rags-to-riches story, stellar sporting achievements, complicated life and dramatic death entrenched his place in the Argentine psyche.

Murals in Buenos Aires depict Maradona with angel wings, as a patron saint complete with halo and scepter, or kissing the World Cup.

Maradona’s name continues to make headlines as well, with Argentines closely following an investigation into his death in which seven caregivers, including his neurosurgeon, are charged.

A panel of 20 medical experts concluded in April that Maradona’s treatment was rife with “deficiencies and irregularities” and said his medical team had left his survival “to fate.”

The probe has been competing for headline space with the court case over an inheritance dispute involving two of Maradona’s daughters.

Adding to the news coverage, this week, a Cuban woman who had an affair with Maradona as a minor 20 years ago, accused him and his entourage of abuse, including rape.

AFP

Second Maradona Nurse To Be Questioned Over Star’s Death

File photo of Argentine legend, Maradona. Credit: AFP

 

A second nurse accused of neglecting football icon Diego Maradona during the last days of his life was due to be questioned by Argentine prosecutors on Wednesday.

Dahiana Gisela Madrid, 36, is one of seven people under investigation for manslaughter after a board of experts looking into Maradona’s death found he had received inadequate care and was abandoned to his fate for a “prolonged, agonizing period”.

The football legend died of a heart attack last November at the age of 60, just weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.

An investigation was opened following a complaint filed by two of Maradona’s five children against neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, whom they blame for their father’s deteriorating condition after the operation.

A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina’s public prosecutor said last month that Maradona’s treatment was rife with “deficiencies and irregularities” and the medical team had left his survival “to fate.”

If found guilty, the seven, who are barred from leaving the country, could face between eight and 25 years in prison.

Madrid was Maradona’s daytime nurse.

On Monday, his nighttime nurse Ricardo Almiron, 37, was the first of the seven to be questioned by prosecutors in San Isidro, on the outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires.

He claimed to have been “told by his superiors not to disturb the patient,” Almiron’s lawyer, Franco Chiarelli told reporters on Monday.

Chiarelli said Almiron “always treated Maradona as a patient with a complex psychiatric” condition but was never told about “an issue related to heart disease.”

– Fabricated report –
Madrid was one of the people to have found Maradona showing no signs of life and had tried to revive him, she said in a previous witness statement.

She also said that when arriving for her shift, she had not performed a routine check on Maradona as she wanted to leave him to rest.

A written report then emerged in which Madrid claimed to have tried to check on Maradona but the World Cup winning captain had turned her away.

The nurse later admitted that was a lie and said her boss, Mariano Perroni, who is also under investigation, had asked her to fabricate the report.

Nursing coordinator Perroni, 40, psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, 35, psychologist Carlos Diaz, 29, medical coordinator Nancy Forlini, 52, and Luque are all due to be questioned by prosecutors over the next two weeks.

A judge will then decide whether the matter should go to trial in a process expected to last months, or even years.

Maradona had battled cocaine and alcohol addictions during his life.

The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star was suffering from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died.

Maradona is an idol to millions of Argentines after he inspired the South American country to only their second World Cup triumph in 1986.

His death shocked fans around the world, and tens of thousands queued to file past his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires amid three days of national mourning.

Maradona’s Doctor Investigated For Involuntary Manslaughter

In this file photo taken on November 02, 2019, Gimnasia y Esgrima team coach Diego Armando Maradona gestures to supporters as he leaves the field after an Argentina First Division Superliga football match against Estudiantes, at El Bosque stadium, in La Plata, Buenos Aires province, Argentina. ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

 

Diego Maradona’s personal doctor was on Sunday being investigated for involuntary manslaughter four days after the Argentina legend suffered a fatal heart attack, prosecutors in San Isidro near Buenos Aires reported.

Police raided Leopoldo Luque’s surgery and home in search of possible evidence pointing to negligence, according to television images.

The probe was triggered by concerns raised by three of Maradona’s daughters Dalma, Gianinna and Jana over the treatment he received for his heart condition at his home in Tigre, north of Buenos Aires, judicial sources said.

“Our investigations are ongoing, we are talking to witnesses including members of the family” of Maradona, a source close to the San Isidro inquiry said.

READ ALSO: Maradona’s Burial, FIFA Awards Nominees + Other Top Sports Stories Last Week 

Luque, who declined to comment when contacted by AFP, had posted a photograph of himself with Maradona on the day the 60-year-old left hospital on November 12, eight days after surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain.

Maradona returned home to Tigre where he received round-the-clock medical care and could remain close to his daughters.

He died of a heart attack on Wednesday and was buried on Thursday at the Jardin de Paz cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital.

“The clinic had recommended that he go elsewhere to be hospitalised, but the family decided otherwise. His daughters signed for him to be discharged from the hospital,” said a family member, on the condition of anonymity.

Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Morla, had called for an investigation into claims that ambulances took more than half an hour to reach the football star’s house in response to an emergency call on the day of his death.

 

File photo of Argentine legend, Maradona. Credit: AFP

 

No complaint has yet been filed. “The case was initiated because he is a person who died at home and no one signed his death certificate. It does not mean there are suspicions or irregularities,” a judicial source said, requesting to remain anonymous.

A preliminary autopsy report established that Maradona died in his sleep at noon on Wednesday of “acute lung edema and chronic heart failure.”

The prosecutor’s office is awaiting the results of toxicological tests on Maradona’s body. The three prosecutors working on the case have requested his medical records, as well as recordings from neighborhood security cameras.

Three funeral home workers provoked outrage for posing for photos next to Maradona’s open coffin, smiling with their thumbs up, as it lay at the presidential palace ahead of his burial. One of the men has since apologised.

Maradona’s last public appearance came four weeks ago for his 60th birthday celebration at the stadium of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, the club he was coaching before his death.

AFP

Maradona’s Burial, FIFA Awards Nominees + Other Top Sports Stories Last Week 

Fans hold photos of Argentinian late football legend Diego Armando Maradona outside the Casa Rosada government house as they wait to pay their tribute to his coffin in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. AFP

 

On Wednesday, legendary Argentine footballer, Diego Armando Maradona died from a cardiac arrest, aged 60, throwing the sporting world into one of its saddest moments in recent times. 

The 1986 World Cup winner’s death saw the outpouring of condolences from across the globe, adding further buzz to a week which started with FIFA’s suspension of CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad.

This edition of First Eleven, a recap of the top 11 sports stories from the world, also features action from the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League and stories from the domestic front.

1. Maradona: Football World Grieves, Bids Farewell To Argentine Legend

 

Aerial view of the burial of late Argentine football legend Diego Armando Maradona at the Jardin Bella Vista cemetery, in Buenos Aires province, on November 26, 2020. (Photo by Emiliano LASALVIA / AFP)

 

Millions of fans in Argentina and around the world on Thursday bided farewell to football great, Diego Maradona, the player who helped his country to a triumph in the 1986 FIFA World Cup.

 

In this file photo taken on June 29, 1986, Argentina’s football star team captain Diego Maradona kisses the World Cup won by his team after a 3-2 victory over West Germany on at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City. AFP

 

The former Napoli star who died on Wednesday was buried on the outskirts of Argentine capital, Buenos Aires after a farewell that was chaotic at times. In the ceremony attended by family and close friends in the leafy surrounds of the Bella Vista cemetery, the peaceful event contrasted sharply with the sometimes raucous scenes of the World Cup winner’s send-off in Buenos Aires.

 

The coffin carrying the remains of the late Argentinian football legend Diego Armando Maradona is carried out from the Casa Rosada government house, in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020.(Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)

 

Thousands of people had lined up from early Thursday morning to file past the star’s coffin, draped in the Argentine flag and his iconic No.10 jersey, at the presidential palace to pay their last respect to the player who commanded a cult following in the South American nation. Tributes are still pouring in from footballers, clubs, associations and coaches, a development that could continue for weeks.

2. FIFA Hammer Lands On CAF President Ahmad Ahmad

 

) In this file photo taken on January 21, 2020 Ahmad Ahmad, President of the Confederation of African Football, speaks during the CAF draw, for the second round of Confederation of African Football (CAF) matches for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 21, 2020 Ahmad Ahmad, President of the Confederation of African Football, speaks during the CAF draw, for the second round of Confederation of African Football (CAF) matches for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP

 

The week had begun on a rather surprising note as FIFA’s hammer landed on Ahmad Ahmad, the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Football governing body, FIFA had on Monday suspended Ahmad, from Madagascar, for five years having “breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds and abused his position as the CAF President.”

File photo: FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends the 12th CAF Extraordinary General Assembly meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh on September 30, 2018. MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP

 

Ahmad who has been the president of the football body since March 2017 was equally fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($220,000) by FIFA for the misdeeds, which related to “the organisation and financing of an Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca” and his involvement in CAF’s dealings with a sports equipment company.

The 60-year-old, has, however, launched an appeal against his suspension, citing unfairness in FIFA’s decision.

3. FIFA Awards 2020: Lewandowski, Messi, Ronaldo Lead Shortlist

 

A photo combination of Lewandowski, Messi and Ronaldo.

 

Polish striker, Roberto Lewandowski was shortlisted alongside Argentine star, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2020 FIFA Awards, to cap off an interesting year in which he won the quadruple with  Bayern Munich.

The European Player of the Year is also joined on the list that includes Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Dutchman Virgil van Dijk  by former teammate and Spanish international, Thiago Alacantra.

File photo: Bayern Munich’s German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer raises the European Champion Clubs’ Cup during the trophy ceremony after winning at the end of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 23, 2020. MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain duo of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos are the other players in the ten-man shortlist. Marcelo Bielsa, who led Leeds into the English Premier League, is in the shortlist for the men’s coach award, which features Bayern’s Hans-Dieter Flick, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane.

4. Pope Francis Receives NBA Players

 

 

This handout photo taken on November 23, 2020, and released by the Vatican press office, the Vatican Media, shows Pope Francis (C) meeting with five NBA players in the Pope’s private studio at the Vatican. Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP

 

Pope Francis believes sports can be a great tool to fight social and economic injustice following his meeting, on Monday, with five NBA players.

“Looking at the problems in society and especially those of social justice, sport can be a good means of resolving them,” Pope Francis said during the event which was held at the Vatican. “We should always remember this because your message is the goodwill of sports but also working together as a team, the work as a community and may this be the seed of beauty and of a shared development towards justice.”

This handout photo taken on November 23, 2020, and released by the Vatican press office, the Vatican Media, shows Pope Francis (L) meeting with five NBA players in the Pope’s private studio at the Vatican. Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP

 

The players  – Jonathan Isaac, Sterling Brown, Marco Belinelli, Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver – who spoke about their efforts at tackling inequalities in their communities described the meeting as “an incredible experience.” During last season’s NBA, players took a knee before matches and wore the Black Lives Matter slogan on jerseys, protesting the killing of a black man, George Flyod by a police officer in the US.

5. Champions League: Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus, Sevilla Enter Last 16

 

Barcelona’s players celebrate their second goal during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between Dynamo Kiev and Barcelona at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kiev on November 24, 2020. Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP

 

Spanish giants, Barcelona and North London side, Chelsea were among the first teams to reach the last 16 of this term’s Champions League, joining Juventus and Sevilla in claiming an early spot in the knockout phase of Europe’s elite club competition.

Chelsea’s French forward Olivier Giroud (C) celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Stade Rennais FC and Chelsea FC at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, western France, on November 24, 2020. DAMIEN MEYER / AFP

 

The Blaugrana shipped for goals past Dynamo Kiev away from home to move a step closer to securing their first Champions League title since 2015.  Manchester City have also made it to the round of 16.

6. Pepe Redeems Self As Arsenal, Roma, Others Make Europa League Knockout Phase

 

File photo: Europa League
File photo: Europa League

 

Nicolas Pepe netted as Arsenal qualified for the Europa League round of 32 with the Gunners beating Molde 3-0. The Ivorian scored just after half-time with a cool close-range finish to ensure the  North London side moved to the next stage of the competition which they got to the final two seasons ago.

Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (4th L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the 0-1 during the UEFA Europa League group B football match Molde v Arsenal in Molde, Norway on November 26, 2020. Svein Ove Ekornesvåg / NTB / AFP

 

Hoffenheim, Leicester and Roma complete the first four teams through to the UEFA Europa League next round.

7. COVID-19: A Green Light For Fans’ Return

 

premier-league-fixtures-today
Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

Football fans in English had reasons to smile over the week as clubs within the tier two areas can now allow spectators in sports arenas.  Although the Premier League is yet to confirm matches to be played over the weekend of December 5 and 6, clubs can welcome up to 2,000 fans.

During that weekend, Brighton will be at home against Southampton, Chelsea welcome Leeds, Premier League holders  Liverpool host Wolves at the Anfield just as Manchester United travel to the London Stadium for a date with West Ham.

The games would be the first batch of top-flight matches to be attended by fans since the outbreak of COVID-19 that shut spectators out of stadiums in March. While government had planned to let supporters back into sports venues in reduced numbers from October, the move was shelved following a spike in the coronavirus infection.

8. 2020 National Sports Festival Moved To January 2020

 

File photo: President Muhammadu Buhari with the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on January 30, 2020.

 

The National Sports Festival (NSF) earlier billed for Benin from Dec. 3 to Dec.13 has been postponed to Jan.3 to Jan.17, 2021.

According to the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, the decision to move the games was arrived at during a virtual meeting with stakeholders on Thursday in Abuja.

Tagged Edo 2020, the games was earlier scheduled to take place in March, but was postponed to December due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

9. Coleman Appeals Ban For Breaching Anti-Doping Rules

 

In this file photo taken on June 20, 2019, Christian Coleman of the USA finishes 2nd in the 200m Men sprint of IAAF Golden Spike 2019 Athletics meeting in Ostrava. Michal CIZEK / AFP

 

World 100m champion, Christian Coleman has appealed the two-year ban handed to him by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). Coleman wants the AIU to set aside that decision “and that the sanction be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced.”

AIU in October banned the American sprinter saying  he “committed an ADRV in relation to an alleged filing failure and missed tests.” He was provisionally suspended for three ‘whereabouts failures’ in June with the World Athletics’ Disciplinary Tribunal upholding the charge, backdating it to May 14, 2020.

Coleman-christian
This file photo taken on September 27, 2019 shows Christian Coleman of the US reacting after the men’s 100m heats at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

If the ban is upheld, Coleman would miss next year’s Olympic Games in Japan, an event he is touted to win the 100m gold.

10. 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers Tips Off 

 

After months of delay occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket qualifiers tipped off on Wednesday.

Three groups  – made up of 12 teams  – are in Kigali, the Rwandan capital. These are teams in Group A, B and D while Group E will battle it out in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Guinea – in Group C – had played during the February window in Yaounde, Cameroon.

The top three sides in all groups will book a ticket to the FIBA AfroBasket 2021. That is not, however,  the case in Group D which has Rwanda.

“In case, Rwanda is ranked first, second or third in this group, then the three highest-placed teams will make it to the final tournament from Group D,” FIBA explained in a statement on its website.

“This also means that the best fourth-placed team in all the five groups, based on the classification rules of the Official Basketball Rules, shall obtain the last spot for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021, making a total of 16 teams.  However, should Rwanda finish in the fourth position, all Group D teams will qualify for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021.”

11. United Forward Rashford Makes Football Black List

 

In this file photo taken on December 01, 2019 Manchester United's English striker Marcus Rashford applauds supporters on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP
In this file photo taken on December 01, 2019 Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford applauds supporters on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

England and Manchester United striker, Marcus Rashford has made the Football Black List, an initiative which celebrates the most influential black people in British football.

The 23-year-old’s campaign, raising awareness of  child poverty in the UK and convincing the government to give children school meals, earned him a place in the list.

Photo: [email protected]

 

Aston Villa and England defender, Tyrone Mings; Watford striker, Troy Deeney and Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast forward, Wilfried Zaha were some of those who made the Football Black List. It was founded in 2008 by sports journalists Leon Mann and Rodney Hinds, and spotlights positive influencers from the black community in sport.

Tears, Memories As Argentina’s Primera Division Returns Without Maradona

Walter Montoya of Racing Club (2nd R) cries as he wears a special jersey with the colors of Argentina and a logo of Maradona to pay homage to the late Argentine football legend before a Copa Diego Maradona 2020 football match between Racing Club and Union at the Presidente Peron Stadium in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires province, Argentina, on November 28, 2020. (Photo by Rodrigo Valle / POOL / AFP)

 

The first games in Argentina’s Primera Division since the death of Diego Maradona kicked off Saturday amid tears and memories, with the club he last coached notching up a victory in tribute to the footballing genius.

Players from Racing and Union de Santa Fe entered the pitch at Avellaneda wearing national jerseys with Maradona’s number 10 on the back.

They warmed up to the sound of “Life is Life” — a song made wildly popular by an accompanying video of the Argentine great performing feats of magic with the ball.

Standing around the centre circle, they marked the legend’s passing with a minute’s applause.

A kite in the Argentine colours was released, in reference to the “Cosmic Kite” moniker given to the diminutive playmaker by commentator Victor Morales after his “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.

“He is a great one, it goes without saying,” said Racing midfielder Walter Montoya, unable to hold back tears during the tribute.

“There is no need to say anything else, all words are futile.”

Maradona’s last public appearance came four weeks ago for his 60th birthday celebration at the stadium of Gimnasia y Esgrima, the club he was coaching before he underwent an operation to remove a clot on his brain.

He died in his sleep on Wednesday aged just 60, plunging his South American homeland and football globally into mourning.

Gimnasia paid their own tribute to the star with a 1-0 victory over Velez in Buenos Aires in a later Saturday fixture.

Several Gimnasia players coached by the legend were also on the verge of tears before kickoff.

“It was crazy to play, because we are still reeling from this blow,” midfielder Victor Ayala said after the match.

“But we did what Diego taught us… For us, he was like a father, calling us whenever we needed something… From up there, he must be proud of this team.”

AFP

Police, Fans Clash At Diego Maradona’s Wake

Fans affected by tear gas thrown by riot police during clashes, walk near the Casa Rosada government house where people is paying tribute to Argentinian late football legend Diego Armando Maradona in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

 

Riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas in clashes Thursday with football fans near the wake for Argentine football legend Diego Maradona in Buenos Aires.

Officials earlier ordered Maradona’s coffin to be moved to another room inside the presidential palace after fans took over an inner courtyard and disrupted his lying in state.

The government had early announced a three-hour extension to the wake to allow time for thousands of fans to pay their respects.

READ ALSO: Referee Who Missed ‘Hand of god’ Hails ‘Genius’ Maradona

Tens of thousands of people had queued from early morning to file past the star’s coffin, draped in the Argentine flag and the player’s No.10 jersey, at the presidential palace.

Many of the mourners were in tears, and some wore replicas of the World Cup winner’s jersey as they gathered at the Casa Rosada palace to see his coffin.

But as the day wore on, fans queueing outside the palace grew increasingly impatient and some took over a courtyard inside the palace, where they chanted slogans.

Officials moved Maradona’s coffin to another room as a security precaution, a government source told AFP.

Photo released by Telam of fans of Argentinian late football legend Diego Armando Maradona confronting riot police outside the Casa Rosada presidential palace as Maradona’s wake takes place inside, in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. Ramiro GOMEZ / TELAM / AFP

 

At the same time, riot police clashed with stone-throwing fans on streets around the palace, and several people were arrested.

Maradona died of a heart attack on Wednesday while recovering from surgery earlier this month to remove a blood clot on his brain.

He was to be buried later Thursday at the Jardin de Paz cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital, where his parents were also laid to rest, his spokesman Sebastian Sanchi told AFP.

AFP

 

Referee Who Missed ‘Hand of god’ Hails ‘Genius’ Maradona

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2013, Football legend Argentinian Diego Maradona gestures during a press conference in Naples. CARLO HERMANN / AFP

 

Tunisian former referee Ali Bin Nasser, who officiated the 1986 World Cup quarter-final in which Diego Maradona scored his famous double against England, hailed the Argentinian as a “genius” following his death, aged 60, on Wednesday.

Bin Nasser admitted that he doubted the validity of Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal, but said the football legend’s second strike in the game was a “masterpiece”.

In the 51st minute of a politically-charged last-eight clash in Mexico, four years after the Falklands War, Maradona outjumped England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the net to give his country the lead.

“I didn’t see the hand, but I had a doubt,” Bin Nasser, the first Tunisian to referee a World Cup quarter-final, told AFP.

“You can see the pictures — I stepped back to take the advice of my assistant, Bulgarian (Bogdan) Dochev, and when he said it was good, I gave the goal.”

The 76-year-old said he believed he was a go-to man for FIFA in tough matches, and that world football’s governing body gave him a high rating for his performance in the game.

“I had already refereed a match between the USSR and China in 1985, I was the man of difficult missions for FIFA,” Bin Nasser said.

“FIFA gave me a 9.4 on this game, I did what I had to do, but there was confusion — Dochev later indicated that he had seen two arms, and he didn’t know if it was Shilton’s or Maradona’s.”

Argentina secured their place in the semi-finals of a tournament they would go on to win when Maradona put them two goals ahead with a strike later voted the ‘Goal of the Century’.

The then-Napoli star evaded six England players’ attempts to either tackle or foul him during a mesmerising run from the halfway line, before prodding into an empty net.

READ ALSO: Argentines Mourn Maradona, ‘The Most Human Of gods’

“I was ready to whistle for a dangerous foul on Maradona,” remembered Bin Nasser of a goal which proved to be the winner after Gary Lineker pulled one back for England.

“I thought after 50 yards of effort they were going to bring him down.

“I was proud to participate in that masterpiece.”

Maradona visited Bin Nasser 29 years later while shooting an advertisement in Tunisia, giving him a T-shirt bearing the words “To my eternal friend Ali”.

“We had a good time, I told him that that day, it was not Argentina who won, but him, Maradona.

“He was a genius, a football legend. As a referee, I did not allow myself to close my eyes even for a second when following him, because he was capable of anything.”

AFP

Maradona Death Kept From Ailing Former Coach Bilardo

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2013, Football legend Argentinian Diego Maradona gestures during a press conference in Naples. CARLO HERMANN / AFP

 

Carlos Bilardo, the coach of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup-winning team who is in poor health, was still unaware on Thursday of the death of Diego Maradona on Thursday, because of his family’s wish not to upset him.

Maradona, who captained the 1986 team, died on Wednesday from a heart attack at the age of 60.

“I cannot tell him that Diego is dead,” Carlos’s brother Jorge Bilardo told Radio Provincia, because he had a “father-son” relationship with Maradona.

Carlos Bilardo had repeatedly said during interviews that Diego was “the son that (he had) not had”.

The former coach, 82, is suffering from neurological disorders.

READ ALSO: Argentines Mourn Maradona, ‘The Most Human Of gods’

He lives in an apartment in Buenos Aires where he is treated by nurses who are prohibited from letting him watch television.

“The nurse already knew that if this happened, the television had to be turned off,” said Jorge Bilardo.

“She did so by telling him that the cable had been cut.”

Carlos Bilardo took Argentina to three World Cups, from 1982 to 1990. They won the title in 1986 and, with Maradona still very much the playmaker, reached the final four years later when they lost to West Germany.

AFP

Argentina And The World Of Football Mourn Maradona

Fans hold photos of Argentinian late football legend Diego Armando Maradona outside the Casa Rosada government house as they wait to pay their tribute to his coffin in Buenos Aires, on November 26, 2020. PHOTO: RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP

 

Thousands of Argentines filed past Diego Maradona’s coffin in Buenos Aires on Thursday after the country and the world of football was plunged into mourning by his death at the age of 60.

Mourners, many in tears, and many wearing the World Cup winner’s number 10 Argentina jersey, gathered at the Casa Rosada presidential palace where the national hero’s coffin was draped in the sky blue and white Argentine flag.

Many more will pay homage to one of the all-time sporting greats before his burial on the outskirts of Buenos Aires later on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Diego Maradona’s Life In 10 Key Dates

Maradona will be laid to rest in the Jardin de Paz cemetery, where his parents were also buried, his spokesman Sebastian Sanchi told AFP.

Tributes poured in from around the world as supporters, players and government leaders marked the passing of a sporting genius whose career and life was sometimes tainted by a loose interpretation of the rules of the game and a crippling addiction to cocaine.

The outrageously skilful Maradona, widely remembered for his “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, died Wednesday of a heart attack while recovering from brain surgery, a member of his entourage told AFP.

Family members were summoned to Maradona’s home north of the Argentine capital before his death was announced.

Lionel Messi, Argentina’s modern-day superstar, led the tributes as he said: “He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal.”

READ ALSO: Maradona To Be Buried Today Outside Buenos Aires – Spokesman

Brazilian legend Pele, 80, constantly compared with Maradona in the debate over football’s greatest player, said he hoped they would one day “play together in the sky”.

Despite a wave of coronavirus cases in Argentina, fans gathered at landmarks including Buenos Aires’ Obelisk monument and Argentinos Juniors’ Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, where he started his career.

 

– ‘Hand of God’ –

Maradona, born in Lanus, just south of Buenos Aires, on October 30, 1960, also played for Boca Juniors and Barcelona before becoming a hero in the working-class southern Italian city of Naples in a career marked by wild highs and lows.

In his most infamous match, he leapt and used his fist to score past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals in Mexico City, memorably describing the goal as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.

Minutes later he weaved through six English defenders from the halfway line to score an unforgettable solo second which was later honoured as FIFA’s “Goal of the century”.

The two contrasting goals perfectly encapsulated the mixture of brilliant skill and often outlandish behaviour that ran through Maradona’s life.

Maradona’s career was crowned by his performances at that World Cup, when he captained Argentina to glory.

After dismissing England he scored twice in the semi-final against Belgium and set up the 86th-minute winner in the final against West Germany.

It was to prove the highlight for Maradona, who inspired Argentina to the 1990 final only for West Germany to take their revenge. In 1994 he was in physical decline and, following an eye-bulging goal celebration direct to the TV cameras after scoring against Greece, failed a drugs test and was sent home in disgrace.

Gary Lineker, who was in the beaten England team in 1986, said Maradona was “arguably the greatest of all time”, adding in a reference to the controversial goal: “After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego.”

Excesses with drugs and alcohol had long taken their toll on Maradona’s health. He was admitted to hospital three times in the last 20 years for serious health issues due to his addictions.

 

– ‘Ciao Diego’ –

Maradona grew up in poverty, but his extraordinary talent was clear from a young age at Argentinos Juniors and Boca.

He moved to Barcelona but was singled out for rough treatment by opposing defenders and soon fell out of love with the Spanish club.

It was in Naples where Maradona would enchant an entire city by leading the then unfashionable Napoli to their only two Italian league titles in 1987 and 1990, befriending a mafia family along the way.

“Always in our hearts. Ciao Diego,” Napoli tweeted, while the club’s president and the city’s mayor called for the Stadio San Paolo to be renamed after Maradona.

In recent years, Maradona, reduced to hobbling by the ravages of his career and lifestyle, had coached in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Argentina without ever hitting the heights of his playing days.

Maradona married his long-time girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984. They had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, but the relationship was punctuated by Maradona’s extra-marital affairs and they divorced in 2004.

He also had a son, Diego Junior, born in Naples in 1986, although he only acknowledged paternity in 2004.

In 2000, FIFA ran an online Player of the Century poll. Maradona gained 54 percent of the vote and Pele was second with 18 percent. FIFA declared them joint winners.

AFP