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In the working-class neighborhoods of Naples, Diego Maradona was more than the star of the local team. He was a son of the slums who wanted to “put six goals behind the boss” – and campaigned for the dignity of their city

Diego Maradona in action during a 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Peru on Jan. June 1985 in Lima, Peru (David Cannon / Getty Images)

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The 16 September 1984 was the day that Diego Armando Maradona discovered how some parts of the Italian population see Naples. On this first match day of the 1984/85 season, his new club Napoli played in the north-eastern city of Verona – home of Romeo and Juliet, but also a Center of the Italian economic miracle of the post-war period ”

On his Serie A debut, Diego immediately realized what he was getting into: “They greeted us with a banner that made it clear to me immediately that the battle Napoli was in was not just about football went “Welcome to Italy”, it was said. It was north against south – the racists against the poor ”

The Lega Nord – the party headed by Matteo Salvini, which has made a name for itself with its racism against the south – would emerge just a few years later. In the stadiums of northern Italy, however, it was tradition to have the largest club in the south To greet banners praising Vesuvius – and chants calling Naples a city of “cholera”, whose inhabitants “needed a wash” ”


Indeed, for many Italians, Naples has been home to disease and natural disasters, and the city has yet to shake off the image that accompanied a cholera outbreak in 1973 and an earthquake in 1980 that epidemic had killed a few dozen people – not exactly a catastrophic death toll, however, this would remain an essential page in both Neapolitan and Italian history

The outbreak that struck the city was an unthinkable nightmare that has now come true. A disease that most imagined had been relegated to the poorest and most backward corners of the earth and instead spread to the heart of the affluent West out – actually in one of the most densely populated cities. This showed the contradictions of Italian economic growth after the war, hardly a single national story

But it also illuminates the alleyways of Naples and its Bassi – the tiny street-level apartment buildings where entire families were gathered in the same space.In the 2000s, all of this was sold to tourists as part of the city’s charm but at that time it symbolized the unsanitary conditions in which most of the Neapolitans lived.These streets looked less like a wealthy western metropolis than the slum villas of Miserias Argentina – more like the Villa Fiorita, where Diego was on Sept. October 1960 was born

Naples had a few industrial islands – but when Maradona arrived in 1984, these too showed signs of crisis. This was the case at the Italsider steel mill in the Bagnoli district on the western periphery of the city Built in the 19th century, its gates would close forever just a few years after the departure of number 10

In short, Naples was a city plagued by unemployment, illegal cigarette trafficking, but also the increasing prevalence of heroin and syringes on the sidewalks.A city where the Camorra murdered courageous journalists who talked about the intrigues between Mafiosi, politicians and companies reported a city of clan wars and street killings A city most described as a hopeless hellhole; A city that thousands of migrants left every year to look for work in the factories in northern Italy, France or Germany

Germany would coincidentally host Napoli’s only international triumph May 1989 was the squad for the second leg of the UEFA Cup final in Stuttgart.The Azzurri had won the home game at the Stadio San Paolo 2-1, with goals for Maradona and Careca The opposing goalscorer Maurizio Gaudino came from Brühl, West Germany, but was also the son of two migrants from Campania (the region around Naples) who went there to work

Around 30000 of the 67000 spectators in the Neckarstadion for the second leg were Italians The workers at Porsche, Daimler, Bosch and IBM had left the poverty and futility of southern Italy behind them – on a real “path of hope”, just like Gaudino’s parents

His people were probably the only Italians in the stadium who cheered VfB Stuttgart on that evening When the final whistle sounded – the proceedings ended 3: 3 and thus an overall victory for Napoli – everyone else celebrated This was not just a game, Not only European cutlery It was also pride – and the knowledge that they could walk through the factory gates the next day kept their heads high

That pride went with Riscatto – salvation, but also liberation or liberation If you asked most southerners today what that number 10 means to them, this is the word they would use, Neapolitans would say, ci ha levato gli schiaffi da faccia – literally: “He removed the slaps from our faces. Something physically impossible, but which we should take in a figurative sense: He freed us from the insults, redeemed us and avenged himself on those who knocked us down.” p>

If we wanted that, there was no bigger rival than Juventus – and not only because it is the Italian club with the most cutlery Juve is owned by the Agnellis, the most important family in northern Italian capitalism and owner of Turin’s FIAT ( today Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) From the 1950s thousands upon thousands of Calabrians, Sicilians and Neapolitans worked in FIAT’s Mirafiori workshops

On 3 November 1985 Juve came to Napoli’s San Paolo site The home team got a free kick in the penalty area, the Turin club wall was just five meters away The Napoli players protested the referee but he did not let them withdraw Maradona told a teammate: “I’ll shoot anyway, I’ll still score” He did

During Diego’s years in Napoli, it often beat Juventus. He himself told filmmaker Emir Kusturica what that meant for Naples: “There was a feeling that the South couldn’t beat the North. We played Juventus in Turin and scored six goals Do you know what it means when a club from the south puts six on Agnelli? ”

For many Neapolitans – for many southerners – beating Juve meant beating the north, which in turn meant beating the rich For example, when Napoli won the Serie A title in 1989-1990 and defeated AC Milan, the club of a rising star of Italian capitalism named Silvio Berlusconi Shortly afterwards, a rather meaningful banner appeared in Naples: “Berlusconi, now also the rich cry”

Anyone trying to capture the reaction of the past few days by adding up goals and titles like an accountant has not understood anything about Diego’s relationship with the Neapolitans, but accounting was what Corrado Ferlaino, club president at the Maradona- Era, Inspired When the player known as Pibe de Oro (“golden boy”) tried to organize a charity game to support a boy whose family could not afford a medical operation, Ferlaino angrily turned down the idea

Diego defied Ferlaino’s opposition – he paid the insurance money out of pocket and convinced his teammates to stand with him. That made sense: After all, when Maradona arrived at the club in July 1984, he said: “I want the ideal for poor children in Naples because they are just like me in Buenos Aires”The match was played on a muddy field; Maradona and Co warmed up in the parking lot between cars and mopeds. Twenty million lire was raised so that the operation could continue

This is a small episode in the career of an athlete – but not in the life of a man. And in Naples the cebollita from Villa Fiorita was not just Maradona, the greatest footballer in history. He was also Diego, the human being – fragile, smiling , moody, addicted to cocaine, womanizer, altruist

Diego Armando Maradona, both as an athlete and as a man, was fundamentally two-sided, a walking contradiction. And the people of Naples identified with him like no other in recent history. No artist or politician was able to establish such a connection ” to build up his “(or“ her ”) people like Diego

The remarkable thing, however, is that this identification is not only based on actually seeing him at work. In 1991, traces of cocaine found in his urine sample for a drug test forced him to flee the country, but the identification with Diego would also endure with Neapolitans born after that date

No doubt some have witnessed his exploits later on video or more recently online. But even Neapolitans who never saw him play his “goal of the century”, the ball under his feet or the “hand of God” – even those who did Don’t understand or like football – recognize Diego as one of them, a symbol Not only ultras or fans mourn him today

In his living person, Diego embodied his people as an imperfect person, irregular and rough around the edges, without ever attempting to “represent” them, but he also shook off his narrowly “national” character. We did this during the 1990 World Cup seen in Italy In an irony of history, the semi-finals between Argentina and Italy were played at San Paolo – “their” home stadium in front of “their” audience

Thousands of Neapolitans have been torn apart – which country should they support? Most chose nationality in their passports, but many opted for the other side and Diego – whether they kept it quiet or preferred to boast about it. He had said before the game: “I think it is distasteful to ask for Neapolitans to come Having to be Italian for one evening 364 days a year if they are treated as Terroni “- the dismissive word for backward, rustic southerners For many, their love for the man who brought Naples dignity, pride and victory came first.” / p>

Today, people mourn on Patria Grande – a Latin America he defended and respected in the square – at Maradona forty-eight hours after his death, a mural even appeared portraying him amid the ruins of Idlib in one of years of war destroyed Syria around the world, people were able to speak to one another in the lingua franca of his name: a language that encompassed his sport, his spirit of rebellion, and, indeed, the dullness with which he spoke to journalists and the powerful – something that much the human race tacitly wishes they could too

But the pouring out of emotion in the last few days also carries a great risk precisely because it is so unanimous that there are signs of a kind of “polishing” on Maradona’s image that is idolized even by those who have actually been his constant enemies Obvious “respect” for the recently deceased also carries the risk of sneaking in to normalize them and purify them of the elements that “upright” circles consider harmful. There is a risk of marginalizing or stigmatizing these parts of history that the Diego of “the people” with all the contradictions that he embodies will disappear Instead, he becomes some sort of sacred figure, more useful in marketing and selling products

As he told journalist Gianni Minà in a wonderful 1988 interview, this was something he had fought against from the very beginning of his football career: taking away the imperfect elements would rob him of his soul and he was the soul of a man of People, powerful but fallible like the Greeks, making him another statue will only embalm him and what he represented.But what we should instead keep alive is the dialectic that moved within him – his burning flame of the Humanity

Maurizio Coppola works as a freelance journalist, translator and interpreter. He is a member of Potere al Popolo and lives in Naples

Giuliano Granato is a worker from Naples who has been sacked for his union activism. He is the national coordinator of Potere al Popolo

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The 16 September 1984 was the day that Diego Armando Maradona discovered how some parts of the Italian population see Naples. On this first match day of the 1984/85 season, his new club Napoli played in the north-eastern city of Verona – home of Romeo and Juliet, but also a Center of the Italian post-war period […]

The 16 September 1984 was the day that Diego Armando Maradona discovered how some parts of the Italian population see Naples. On this first match day of the 1984/85 season, his new club Napoli played in the north-eastern city of Verona – home of Romeo and Juliet, but also a Center of the Italian post-war period […]

The 16 September 1984 was the day that Diego Armando Maradona discovered how some parts of the Italian population see Naples. On this first match day of the 1984/85 season, his new club Napoli played in the north-eastern city of Verona – home of Romeo and Juliet, but also a Center of the Italian post-war period […]

Our new edition, “Failure is an Option”, is out now. We discuss why the institutional collapse of the United States is not going to stop after Trump leaves and what can be done to improve the situation of the working people Get a discount subscription for $ 20 today!

Diego Maradona

World news – FI – Diego Maradona loved Naples – and it loved him back

Source: https://jacobinmag.com/2020/11/diego-maradona-naples-napoli-obituary-italy