There was bad blood on the football pitch during a peace match because Maradona shattered that peace by picking a fight with Juan Sebastian Veron.
Diego Maradona started off his night at football’s ‘Match for Peace’ – the brainchild of Pope Francis himself – by making a speech:
“We are here to play for peace, peace throughout the world.”
Peace throughout the world, perhaps – but not peace on the football pitch, from the looks of it, because the Argentine legend shattered that peace by picking a fight with Juan Sebastian Veron.
Normally, it’s football journalists who bear the brunt of the once-great Argentina superstar’s anger. In the past he’s fired air rifles at them, and even ran over one cameraman’s foot in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup.
But this time it was the lanky ex-Manchester United player who found himself in the crosshairs. Maradona started the needle on the pitch, stepping it up a gear as the two came off at half-time, and then tried to make it a full-blown ruckus as the pair of them came into the tunnel.
Maradona eventually had to be physically restrained to stop him from continuing the barney.
The reason for the tangle? Maradona apparently blames Veron for his sacking as Argentina coach a few years ago, and has in the past accused the former Manchester United player of “betraying me” along with his father, a high-profile coach in Argentine football.
The world’s best football-based lipreaders have decreed that at one point he said to Veron, “‘I don’t f*** you about, I tell you straight to your face, idiot.”
It’s hard to argue with Maradona’s honesty, at least. But if the reaction of the pundits on Italy’s Rai 1 was anything to go by, this isn’t quite the sort of publicity the Pope had in mind.