Argentina | Parsing Maradona and culture

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Buenos Aires | Marcela Mora y Araujo‘s Sunday profile of Diego Maradona introduces the reader to several key concepts in Argentine football culture. The first is picardia criolla, a “Creole cheekiness” with which Argentines spiced the game following its introduction by English sailors and railway workers. “The game is particularly suited to the poor,” she writes, no doubt intending Maradona as exemplar.

Children whose parents who cannot afford toys can be easily entertained with a single ball, which need not be an actual ball at all: scrunched-up rags will do. The main objective for each child is to gain possession and then play. This is the moment of individual expression par excellence, the child at play.

The second principle is gambeta, the melding of technical ability with deception. And Maradona possesses a third desirable quality, arenga, the ability to encourage others. With these culturally lauded traits, no wonder that Maradona is described as the nation’s addiction. “He is our drug,” says a sports psychologist. “It is not him who is ill, it is us.”

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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  1. adesh kumar says:

    Maradona was and will always be [a] god and the greatest player in footballing history.

    He’s a genius and a GOD.

    I don’t think there will ever be another player [like him;] he was so gifted, and so elegant.

    The saddest thing for me, I wish I could [have] seen him in his prime.

    I also love his political and principled views on life, too.

    He’s the greatest, may GOD look after him.

    I’m so happy to see he’s doing well now, lost all his weight and doing his own TV show.

    From, Adesh

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