19 de noviembre de 2008

Maradona and the British Media

Over the past few days the worldwide media has focused on tonight’s friendly football match between Scotland and Argentina[1]. Football “friendlies” do not always attract this much attention. The difference is that this time, the South American squad will kick-off the polemic Maradona’s era as National Coach.

Beyond the sporting issues and controversies around Maradona’s appointment and the eventual result, it is interesting observe how the British press– especially the more sensationalist ones in particular the Mirror[2] and the Scottish Sun[3] - have been reviving old grudges. The famous ‘hand of God’ episode spring immediately to mind, ‘touching’ sensitive nerves in British – Scottish and English - fans and therefore provoking various nationalistic reactions (and sales increases, of course).

The Argentinean press, on the other hand, has also focused on a similar sensationalist pattern[4]. But in their case the focus has been the details of the relationship between Maradona’s pregnant daughter and the baby’s father, Segio Agüero, the new Argentinean star and team member.

However, the bigger picture is better understood by considering deeper political and historical embedded in how the media are covering the run-up to the match. For British fans, constant failures in World Cups since 1966 are frequently excused by finding scapegoats are hiding behind illegal acts such as the ‘Hand of God’. Whereas on the Argentinean side, such event have strong connotations, Diego, poor guy from the suburbs of Buenos Aires, restored the pride of the Argentinean back in 1986 by defeating those who four years earlier had toppled the dreams of a nation in the Falkland’s War. These are not trivial feelings. Old passions have been aroused and once again football is a catalyst vehicle for social, political, cultural dynamics.

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