Beyond soccer, here are some of the political causes, leaders, and movements Diego Maradona supported in his life

Beyond soccer, here are some of the political causes, leaders, and movements Diego Maradona supported in his life
Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona, shows Cuban President Fidel Castro a tattoo of him on his leg.Reuters
  • Diego Maradona died at the age of 60 on Wednesday due to cardiac arrest.
  • Athletes, leaders and fans all over the world expressed appreciation and mourning for the Argentine superstar.
  • Throughout his life, Maradona was outspoken on political and social causes.
  • Maradona developed deep friendships with socialist leaders in Latin America, demonized the Catholic Church, and backed Palestinian nationhood.
  • Maradona also had tattoos of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, two of his idols.

Diego Maradona, one of the greatest players to grace a soccer pitch, died Wednesday aged 60.

As current and former soccer players, and fans from all over the world paid tribute to Maradona's memory, many have also noted of how far-reaching Maradona's impact was.

While most famous for moments like the famed "Hand of God" and "Goal of the Century" at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, Maradona also had a significant impact off the pitch, despite his well-known struggles with substance abuse.
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Maradona was never shy to express his political beliefs, supporting Latin American socialism, demonizing the Catholic Church, and briefly considering running for elected office.

Here are some of the political stances Maradona took in his life

Across Latin America, Maradona supported many socialist leaders, and befriended several.

Maradona supported Venezuela's late socialist president Hugo Chavez throughout his political career, even appearing on his talk show in 2007.
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According to Reuters, Maradona said: "I believe in Chavez, I am Chavista ... everything Fidel does, everything Chavez does for me is the best."

Later in the show, he said: "I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength," garnering applause. In 2018, Maradona joined Chavez's successor, Nicolas Maduro, on the campaign trail during that year's election, which ultimately led to an unsuccessful attempt from Venezuela's opposition to seize power.
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Beyond soccer, here are some of the political causes, leaders, and movements Diego Maradona supported in his life
Maradona plays an indoor game of soccer with Fidel Castro.Reuters

In 2000, Maradona was granted clemency in Cuba to seek medical help for his substance abuse problems. After a four year stay, he credited the Cuban medical system, and Fidel Castro with saving his life.

After Castro's death in 2016, Maradona called Castro a "second father."

He had a tattoo of Castro on his leg, as well as a tattoo of Che Guevara on his arm. He has also dubbed himself the "Che Guevara of football."
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Maradona's anti-American sentiment was a longstanding theme throughout his life.

In 2004, he participated in an anti-Iraq War and anti-free trade protest which drew thousands, according to the Guardian.

At the rally, he was flanked by Hugo Chavez and wore a "Stop Bush" shirt, taking to the mic and stating: "I'm proud as an Argentine to repudiate the presence of this human trash, George Bush."
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Maradona also had a longstanding relationship with Evo Morales, the Bolivian president from 2008 to 2019, who was ousted last year.

In 2008, Maradona played in a charity match organized by Morales in Bolivia's capital, La Paz, with the match serving in part as a protest against FIFA's former ban on matches played at high altitudes. La Paz is the highest altitude capital city on earth.

The pair were successful in their campaign to have the ban overturned.
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Beyond soccer, here are some of the political causes, leaders, and movements Diego Maradona supported in his life
Maradona is widely considered one of soccer's greatest.Getty/Jean-Yves Ruszniewski

Maradona also spoke out against the Vatican several times, under the tenure of Pope John Paul and Pope Francis. "I've been to the Vatican and seen the gold ceilings. And then I hear the Pope saying that the Church was concerned about poor kids. So? Sell the ceilings, mate!" Maradona told The Independent in 2005.

A decade later, Maradona visited Pope Francis after a 2016 charity match, and expressed similar views. "I went into the Vatican and saw that golden roof. And I said to myself how could somebody be such a son of b---- as to live with a golden roof and then go to poor countries and kiss children with a full belly? I stopped believing," Maradona said, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais..
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Maradona later apologized for the comments and said that Pope Francis helped him rediscover his faith.

Although Maradona never formally ran for any elected position in Argentina, he flirted with the idea.

In 2018, Maradona reportedly told Argentine newspaper Clarin: "Fidel told me I should dedicate myself to politics, and I would go with her, with Cristina Fernandez."
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Fernandez is Argentina's vice president, and was the country's president between 2007 and 2015. Maradona was a registered member of the Justicialist, Peronist party which Fernandez leads.

Away from Latin America, Maradona consistently expressed solidarity with Palestine and the idea of a Palestinian state.

In 2012, while Maradona was managing Al-Wasl, a Dubai-based club, he told reporters: "I am the number one fan of the Palestinian people. I respect them and sympathize with them."
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He added that he has always sympathized with the Palestinian people because of his struggles as the son of a factory worker, raised in the slums of Buenos Aires.

In 2014, he called Israel's bombardment of Gaza "shameful" and in 2018, he met with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas during the FIFA World Cup in Moscow, and told him: "In my heart, I am Palestinian."

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