DUBAI, 25 November 2021 – Argentinian football legend Diego Armando Maradona was honoured at Expo 2020 Dubai on the first anniversary of his death, with a friendly match between the UAE and Argentina, while his country’s ambassador praised him for bringing cultures together.
“Today is the first anniversary of the passing away of dear Armando Maradona,” His Excellency Agustin Molina Arambarri Ambassador of Argentina told a crowd at the Expo’s Sports, Fitness and Wellbeing Hub.
HE Arambarri added: “Like no other footballer, he inspired millions of people around the world [with] his contribution to football as a tool for cultural integration and for building relationships across barriers of friendship.”
The ambassador said it was fitting that the tribute to Maradona was held at Expo 2020: “This also makes the Expo 2020 the best place to hold this little tribute to the best football player of all times, a place where tens of thousands [of people] from literally all over the world are gathering every day and, in a way, getting together with each other.”
“It made me very happy, as ambassador of Argentina in the UAE to realise how we have built new bridges between both countries by sharing with future generations of footballers some of the knowledge and expertise that [helped] Argentina become one of the best football teams in the world,” he said.
His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council (DSC), explained that the friendly match further bolstered ties between the two nations. “We don’t forget Diego Maradona. He stayed in Dubai for a long time and was even ambassador of [the] Dubai Sports Council. He sent a message to the world: ‘Staying here for a long time means I feel safe in Dubai.’”
Argentina won the friendly match against the UAE 9-5. The game was followed by another match for children hosted by the Football Technology Institute.
Co-director of the Football Technology Institute Eduardo Llaser, said: “There is probably no better opportunity to honour Diego’s legacy in football than by having younger generations of footballers play here at Expo 2020.”