Maradona vs Kadyrov: A football match to make the soul vomit
It’s one of those things that makes you wish that you were a wolf, so that you could tear off your clothes, throw yourself down on your haunches and howl in agony towards the moon. It makes you look at the keyboard into which you’re thudding angry verbs and nouns and makes you ponder how you ever got involved in this industry, how you ever had the misfortune to be in this sport’s thrall. It makes you furious that this is how the game works, that the world works, that people are diverted by utter shams such as these.
At least, that’s how it makes me feel. When I saw that Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen strongman, had organised a football match between his select side and a World XI including Diego Maradona, Luis Figo and friends, there was a violent, surging sensation in the base of my gut, which I now acknowledge to be the precise moment when my soul vomited. Kadyrov, on very good authority, is a man whose leadership of his country brooks little opposition, his methods of oppression so effective that they have attracted the thorough attention of human rights campaigners, one of whom is sadly no longer with us. Kadyrov knows well the value of a PR opportunity. As he proved in a previous game against Brazil, high-profile football matches have the pleasing effect of adding a benign sheen to a regime, and he is fortunate to have so many willing to be complicit in his scheme.
Several things about the match remain unclear. We don’t know, for example, whether much money passed hands for the players’ participation. We can be charitable and assume that they played for free, for the love of the beautiful game, et cetera, and that many thousands did not flow into their pockets for their participation. We can also look at the scoreline, a 5-2 defeat of the World XI, and assume that the rotund Chechen leader’s exceptional pace and perceptive passing, allied with the World XI’s use of a fatally high defensive line, allowed him to wreak decisive havoc amongst a defence including Franco Baresi. We know nothing for certain, save this. We can be absolutely certain that, when Kadyrov’s side claimed their glorious victory, we would not have found human rights organisations screaming their approval from the stands.Tagged in: chechyna, Diego Maradona, football, Franco Baresi, human rights, Ivan Zamorano, Luis Figo, Natalia Estemirova, Ramzan Kadyrov, utter sham
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