Maradona’s performance in the stands was as eye-catching as the one produced on the field by Lionel Messi in Argentina’s 2-1 win over Nigeria. He danced, he dozed-off, he prayed, he chanted, he gave a double middle-finger salute to spectators and then, when it was all over, he was helped out of his chair and out of the stadium, with some reports claiming he was hospitalised.
Hours after the match FIFA announced that Diego Maradona will no longer receive income as a FIFA ambassador after his embarrassing and provocative behaviour during the match. FIFA adheres to a strict disciplinary policy with regards to ambassadors and did not take lightly to Maradona loosely brandishing his middle fingers in celebration of Marcos Rojo’s late winner. The footballing federation was paying Maradona just below R182 000 for every game that he attends, as his presence in the stadium was a major point of attraction. Maradona’s antics raised more concerns over the health of one of the sport’s most iconic players, who led Argentina to the World Cup title in 1986 scoring the famous “Hand of God” goal.
Maradona’s visit to hospital was linked to illegal substances in his system but he later dismissed the claims saying he only had white wine to drink and that the trip to the hospital was due to a pain in his neck, “I swear on the lives of my mum, my grandson Benjamin and my son Dieguito Fernando’s life,” said Maradona confidently.