Sporting columnist on Maradona and the FINA diving championships
Diego Maradona is clocking up the air miles at the moment. One minute he’s on court during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, hitting a few balls with Juan Martin del Potro, then he’s in Naples, then back on Centre Court, then he appears abroad again. It goes on. This, of course, is all going on during a time when many are wondering where he’ll end up permanently.
At the moment, Diego is Dubai Sports Ambassador and is contracted until July 2013. This job seems to involve appearing at the occasional sporting event and having your photo taken with Caroline Wozniacki – nice work if you can get it. He’s been in the role for almost a year after being sacked by Al Wasl FC for his poor first season in charge of the team. That followed a poor stint in charge of the Argentinian national team, as well as managing other teams in Argentina. Basically, you have to question his managerial talents.
But one thing you can’t question is Maradona’s reputation, profile and character. Get him at your club and you’ll be known the world over. Malls in Argentina were selling Al Wasl shirts when he was in charge, which is more than can be said for Dubai (have you ever seen an Al Wasl shirt on sale here? Sold out, I’m sure).
Maradona is, of course, remembered across the world for his ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. He’s a stunning player – many say the best ever – though there’s no denying that goal was scored with his left hand. But it’s World Cup moments in Dubai we’ll be talking about later this year, when the Under 17 World Cup is staged across the UAE in October and November. A total of 23 nations will compete from October 17 to November 8 at six venues across six emirates: Al Ahli’s Rashid stadium will be Dubai’s chosen venue, with a capacity of 18,000.
Naturally, the UAE will qualify as host nation, and we guarantee the tournament will be well worth a watch. The UAE team have such a good set of men at the moment, it will be great to see what the next generation can achieve.
One more thing...
Lots of football chat this week, and now on to diving. No, not Gareth Bale. I’m talking about the FINA/Midea Diving World Series, which arrives back in Dubai from Thursday March 21 at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid sports complex on Dubai Bypass Road. There are 12 countries competing, including nine of the 12 London 2012 gold medalists – it’s going to be a cracking competition.