Time will tell if Diego Maradona's move to Dorados is legit or a sideshow
EDITOR'S NOTE: This was originally published in Spanish and translated from ESPN Mexico. Find the original here.
MEXICO CITY -- Diego Maradona has arrived in Mexican soccer and as you'd expect, a media frenzy has started. Dorados de Sinaloa, playing in the Ascenso MX, is fully aware of what they're getting into. The team insists it is more of a sporting decision rather than an attempt to create a "media circus." It's obvious that there is a certain amount of fear and a sense of morbid interest because it's Maradona but no matter what happens, from Sunday on, the Dorados will stop being Culiacan's or Sinaloa's team and will become the "Diego Dorados" instead.
Criticizing Diego Armando Maradona because of his scandalous private life is the easiest thing there is. It's more difficult to understand and appreciate his contributions to the world of soccer and how soccer could end up helping him at this stage of his life.
Maradona is the new manager of the Sinaloa Dorados, which plays in Mexican soccer's second division. "They offered him to me. I spoke with him, explained to him what it was about, who we are and where we want to go. I felt that he was convinced and determined," said Jorge Alberto Hank, soccer president of the Caliente Group, which also controls Club Tijuana in addition to the side in Culiacan.
Maradona should arrive in the Sinaloa capital on Sunday and will take the reins of a club that's had three draws and three losses in six matches so far this season. The first thing that could come to anyone's mind after hearing news of this hiring is that the team is trying to put on a show. In a matter of few hours, Dorados has made itself as part of the most important news of the day in Mexican media outlets and plenty outside Mexico, too.
"It is not a circus," Hank warns me. "It is about a sporting challenge. We want Dorados to earn its promotion."
Maradona resurfaced this summer in Russia after several confusing public appearances during the World Cup. Arguably, he wasn't in his best shape and his public image is still linked to the many scandals in his private life. I suppose that Hank understands what this could imply and the kind of situations he could face. Maradona's stints as a club manager have been volatile and unsuccessful, to say the least.
Besides, the reward in media attention, which has been felt almost immediately, Dorados are hiring a legendary former player with a huge personality who could serve and help as a mentor or teacher to its young players. His presence in the locker room and on the training fields will hopefully generate an enriching environment when it comes to motivation and leading by example -- a soccer-related example, I must point out -- for those who dream of a future playing on the pitch.
Maradona is arriving in Culiacan and with him comes a mix of feelings: excitement, illusion, morbid interest, hopes, anguish, reality and -- why not -- even expectation. We all know how this story has started. We shall see how it all turns out.