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Taking a Buttock - #MeToo, Paula Dapena & the late Diego Maradona

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 2 December 2020

A great woman I once knew used to joke about how it could only happen in her home City that the International Airport was named after a drunk and a wife beater. I refer to the late George Best. Should we honour a man who was a footballing genius and who also had a way with words but whose off-field activities were, shall we say, not very 2020? Lesser men who beat up women have lost their place in history. And that brings us to Diego Maradona.

On the weekend, at matches around the world, players stood in a moment of silence in respect. But in one Spanish woman’s game, one player turned her back and then sat on her backside for the minute.

Paula Dapena, who plays for club Viajes Interrías, said she didn’t want to participate in the tribute because of past accusations of domestic violence made against him. An altercation between Maradona and his partner was caught on video some years ago but he was not charged.

That, of course, is often the way with celebs. They are caught doing something bad but the deadwood press is terrified of alienating powerful PR machines so just does not report it. Moreover, society’s moronic worship of the “beautiful game” allows those who can kick a ball well to get away with things that those of us with two left feet would be hung out to dry for.

To its credit, the Guardian did report this aspect of Madonna’s life covering that video.

First aired on an Argentine TV channel six years ago, it appears to show Maradona hitting his then girlfriend, a former professional football player called Rocio Oliva, who was three decades his junior. Unsteady on his feet, Maradona shouts at her and then appears to strike her twice. The slaps are clearly audible on the soundtrack, as is Oliva shouting at him in Spanish: “Stop, stop.”

Maradona didn’t challenge the video’s authenticity, but he did deny hitting Oliva. “I grabbed the phone but I swear to God that I have never hit a woman,” he insisted. It wasn’t the first time Oliva accused Maradona of abusing her, although charges were never brought. Another incident occurred on a plane, in front of dozens of witnesses, when Maradona verbally abused Oliva before grabbing her by the neck.

Naturally the response in Spain to Ms Dapena’s very legitimate protest has been that she had received numerous death threats. Surely Diego would have disapproved: just slap her a few times and she will see the light?

One of the best things about the great Nelson Mandela was that he insisted that the world know his character flaws including marital infidelity when his biography was published and in the film that followed. That made him an even greater man. The near universal whitewash of the worst aspects of Maradona’s character and the treatment of those who raise them achieves the opposite


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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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