- Mohammad Hamdar
- BBC News Arabic – Beirut
Football fans have had their share of setbacks 2020 Competitions were suspended for months, then they were banned from attending matches in the stadiums, and on November 25 it was announced that the legendary player Diego Maradona had died.
The player’s personality, which has been passed down through generations that did not know him liked, was a key to making his legend. His biography, full of controversial stations, was rich material for several international documentaries and fictions produced before his departure, in different dialects. The most important of them are two documentaries signed by two international award-winning filmmakers, the first by Serbian director Emir Kusturica, and the second by British director Asif Kapadia.
Maradona’s political face
In the movie “Maradona”, the director, Emir Kusturica, accompanied the Argentine player on a journey that lasted more than two years, during which the director had to stop filming more than once. He also sometimes had to go after Maradona to pursue the documentary’s completion.
The photography trip began with an evening visit to Diego’s home in Argentina. While remembering the most important milestones in his life, Maradona escorted the director to the “Villa Burrito” neighborhood, where he was born and raised, and then they entered and sat in his childhood home 15 years after his last visit.
The family preserved the old house with its old furniture and contents.
Kusturica accompanied the Argentine star to Naples on the first visit in 2005 after a hiatus of many years, and the team and director were lost with the camera among the crowds that rushed to welcome Diego.
He went with him on the “Alba” train trip to campaign against the free trade agreement that had not been concluded between the United States and Latin American countries. He was filmed in 2005, giving a speech against the policies of the United States and George Bush Jr., in the Plaza de Marta del Plata in Buenos Aires, alongside former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the current Chilean president, Evo Morales, and accompanied him to Cuba on a visit to its President Fidel Castro.
Kusturica gives a lot of space to express Maradona’s political views. And restore Argentina’s historic match with England, in a political approach against the backdrop of the war in the Falklands. Maradona repeatedly describes scoring a goal with himself, stealing an Englishman’s wallet.
Maradona portrays a player who takes revenge on his opponents on the field. And he makes him an animated character, who scores against British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher or US Presidents George Bush and Richard Nixon.
Maradona reveals his refusal to be honored in the United States and his acceptance of the honor in Cuba. And he talks about his refusal to meet Prince Charles for political reasons as well.
He also recalls his disagreements with the International Football Association (FIFA) and with the president of the Italian Football Association, and insists that he was wronged when he was eliminated in the 1994 World Cup.
The director tries to answer a question he posed at the beginning of the movie. Who is this guy? Why did people all over the world fall in love with him even after he stopped playing?
Why some of them have come to establish a church in their name in Argentina? Or to encourage the Argentine national team against his country because of Maradona, such as what happened in Naples in the 1990 World Cup in the confrontation between Argentina and Italy?
By searching for Maradona, the director tries to highlight the position of football, especially among the poor, and how it finds, through this game, a way out of their suffering.
During the film, Maradona appears in a series of interviews in which his looks have changed more than once, and in which his mood has changed. Especially when he was undergoing drug addiction treatment.
Perhaps the most prominent thing that was reported by the media and social media after the announcement of his death was the video that Kusturica was lucky to shoot, while Maradona sang, in the presence of his family, the song “Marado”, in which he summarizes his life.
Two scenes at the beginning of the film demonstrate the contradiction in the character of the ancient legend.
Scene 1, the first visit of Prince Kusturica, the well-known director, to the Maradona home. He gets to know him for the first time, and remembers with him the most prominent events that a player lived. Maradona looks friendly and welcoming, does not skimp on any answer despite the presence of the staff and the camera.
In the scene that follows, Kusturica waits in the morning with the cast and camera lenses for a long time in front of Maradona’s house, to start an agreed filming day. Maradona goes out with his family to greet the exit quickly, and he leaves quickly in his car after closing his window to the camera.
Maradona’s shocking behavior will return the director to a long history of quarrels between the soccer star and the press.
In this documentary, the director is present with voice and image, and his vision and ideas that he formed about Maradona, what he went through, football and historical milestones, are presented. In contrast, director Assef Kabadia goes back to documenting the facts as they happened, through the archives.
Difference between Diego AndMaradona
The director, Asif Kabadia, usually never misses any material from the archives in order to build the story. This method was used by him in the movie “Sina” about the late Brazilian Formula One racing champion Ayrton Senna, and in the film “Amy” about the British singer Amy Winehouse, who died as a young woman in 2007.
Through audio recordings, excerpts from interviews of Maradona and many personalities who accompanied him in his career as a player and a person, Kapadia narrates the biography of Maradona, the player and the human, and the link between them, or how each influenced the other in a documentary film entitled “Diego Maradona”.
The film focused on the time Maradona spent in Naples, and delved into the details of that stage of his football and personal life.
His personal trainer, who accompanied him in Naples, talks about the difference in character between Diego the player and the well-known superstar Maradona.
Maradona, the politician, will only appear during the match with England. And the most prominent was his statement when he said, “The atmosphere around us was as if we were going to war.”
The director will make us live the moments of the most important matches in the history of Maradona’s biography, sometimes without sound effects or music, through the television transmission camera, including the camera that was following Maradona’s movement and his facial expressions.
Thus, we return to the Argentina match against England and to the final in 1986, and to the semi-final match between Argentina and Italy in 1990, which was a knockout blow to Maradona’s future in Italy.
And we discover what Maradona was facing in his personal life with every merit, such as the issue of the pregnancy of a girl named Christina from him in conjunction with the start of the 1986 World Cup, a pregnancy that will result in a child that Maradona will not recognize until after thirty years.
Through interviews and media statements, the director observes the transformation of the shy and modest character into the personality of the world star, who will become accustomed to the lights, lenses and appear on the screen.
The Argentine footballer says football was also the path of salvation for a father, a mother and five children. And his sister says: “Everything has been on his shoulders since he was fifteen years old.”
‘Anger fuels Maradona’
“The poorest city in the world is buying the most expensive player in the world,” this is how a French TV report summed up Maradona’s move from Barcelona to Naples. It was a surprise deal that grabbed the headlines, and was a lifeline for Maradona to get out of Barcelona, and a hope for the then-weakened Southern Napoli team, winning the Italian League championship even once.
His personal trainer says anger was the fuel that propels Maradona on the field. The Argentine newcomer from the favelas of Buenos Aires discovered the racism of the North, and had more sympathy for Naples.
In the match against Juventus on the territory of the latter, he scored a goal that made the people of Naples hang his picture in their homes. A local newscast reported that five people passed out in the stands.
With one victory after another, the marches were taking place bearing statues of the Virgin and pictures of Maradona, and the masses’ love for him reached the point of deification, he once conducted a routine blood test, so the nurse took a sample from him and placed him inside a church.
That briefing surrounded him even in his home, when he was looking out from his balcony to find people and journalists calling him and asking for his signature.
Everyone wanted to get close to the legend, including the mafia.
In his first press conference upon his arrival to Naples, Maradona faced a question about the Mafia, which the reporter said during his question was interfering in football matters. Exclamation marks appeared on Maradona’s face, which seemed as if he did not know anything, before the club president intervened and accused the journalist of tarnishing the reputation of the city and asking him to leave the hall.
Maradona speaks for the first time about the details of his relationship with the “Camorra” gang, since he received the first call to consolidate the relationship and to provide the mafia with protection and cocaine. Cocaine was available in exchange for some services, such as appearances at Mafia-sponsored events.
Drugs were the world he began to turn to to escape the troublesome rhythm of his life in Naples. He had asked on more than one occasion to leave, but the president of Napoli, Corrado Ferlaino, who described himself in an interview as “Maradona’s jailer”, refused his departure.
Maradona had been quitting drugs on Wednesday in preparation for the match, and returning to cocaine from Sunday to Tuesday.
The club president was concerned about his addiction, in addition to suffering from back pain, but he said “as long as he could play we would win.”
Maradona’s career in Italy ended after scoring a goal against Italy in the 1990 World Cup semi-final match in Naples.
He had caused a split in his request for the Italians to support his country, Argentina, against Italy.
The press moved against him, the tax authorities and the anti-drug police, the Mafia turned away from him after he became pressured into their activities because of him. “I arrived in Naples, thousands welcomed me, and I left alone in silence,” Maradona says.
Then we witness the third transformation of Maradona in front of the camera lens after his addiction to drugs, affected quickly and shed tears and repeats his regret. He talks about distancing himself from his family and about moments when he was afraid of his daughter during his addiction. “I knew I was going to be a soccer player, but I didn’t know that I would be addicted to drugs,” he says.