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La Iglesia Maradoniana – Argentina’s real religion?

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Photo by Angus Barthram

I entered the church late: mass already underway, the choir already crooning an unknown vesper and the priest heading to the pulpit.

This, however, wasn’t your typical Christian service as, rather than a traditional church, the proceedings were taking place in Pizza Banana, Italian restaurant cum nightclub; rather than eating the body and blood of Christ, a choice of Margherita or Pepperoni pizzas with a complementary beer was available; rather than a classic choir singing about the bible, there were 300 football fans shouting about former glories of Argentina’s national team and, rather than a robed and ordained clergyman giving a sermon, there was a short, rotund man in a football shirt speaking from a DJ’s booth.

All in all, just another normal service at the church of Diego Maradona.

The Church

The Iglesia Maradoniana was conceived ten years ago by some friends in Rosario. They shared so great a love of the infamous player that today’s 120,000 worldwide members of the church believe that the former Boca and Argentina star is God himself.

In fact, amongst the surreal revelry of their services, it is often hard to discern whether the idea of the church is just a homage-in-jest to Argentina’s greatest footballer or a cult who actually believe that the mortal Maradona is the one true Messiah, as 28-year-old Bálo, one of the church’s ‘Ten Apostles’, suggested: “The church isn’t just a bit of fun, this is a serious celebration of our eternal love for God. I may have only been part of the church for two years but I was born ‘Maradonian’.”

Photo by Angus Barthram

According to the word of the church, ‘football is the religion and, like all religions, has a God. The God of football is Argentine and his name is Diego Armando Maradona.’ The church’s insignia is the portmanteau D10S, a combination of the word Dios (God in Spanish) and Maradona’s shirt number 10.

La Iglesia Maradoniana even goes as far as to have its own ten commandments, for example ‘Do not mention the name Diego in connection with any one club’, own miracles in the form of Maradona’s playing feats and even its own prayers (see box-out).

The church meets biannually: once for ‘Noche buena y Navidad Maradoniana’, or ‘Maradona Christmas Eve and Christmas’, over the eve of the 29thand running into the 30th October to commemorate Maradona’s birthday (and the birthday of the church) and once for ‘Las Pascuas Maradonianas’, ‘Maradona Easter’, on the 22nd June to mark the day that Argentina knocked rivals England out of the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals through two Maradona goals, one of which being the infamous ‘Mano de Dios’.

I was fortunate enough to attend the service of ‘Noche Buena y Navidad Maradoniana’, which this year coincided with the ten year anniversary of the church’s conception and promised a ‘big surprise at midnight’.

La Navidad Maradoniana

The service heading towards its climax, Christmas joy and merriment radiated from the rosy cheeks of all in attendance and a crisp festive air filled the room as the efficient Pizza Banana air conditioning systems clicked up a notch and the free booze set into complexions around the room.

Photo by Angus Barthram

The idea of the ‘Noche Buena y Navidad’ service is to mirror the excitement and celebration of the classic Christian Christmas Eve and Christmas day but replacing the birth of the Good Shepard Jesus Christ with that of Diego Maradona, man of vice.

Already in a state of some consternation at the sight of so many Maradona shirts, videos, books, flags, paintings and Christmas trees, I was flabbergasted to see the procession of the ‘Ten Apostles’.All veiled in white, ten apparitions filed out of a back room, parading themselves with an eerie gravity.They carried different relics representing their faith, ranging from a football boot or a faux world cup trophy to a rosary with 34 beads (the number of goals Maradona scored for his nation) and even a bleeding football adorned in a crown of thorns.

As I sat, digging into a big slice of Sloppy Giuseppe and watching a month-year-old baby being officially baptised as ‘Maradonian’, I was struck by another pang of incredulity. Can this be real? Co-founder Hernán Amez was able to shed more light: “I am not a Catholic. Religion is about feelings and we feel football. I’ve been doing this for ten years now and it’s not just a bit of fun, it’s a religion.”

The quiz was finished, the pizza eaten, the ‘Mano de Dios’ and Maradona tattoo competitions won and all Maradona wedding contracts signed. The atmosphere reached fever pitch as camera crews huddled, fanatical warbling of ‘Volveremos a ser campeones como en ochenta seis’ filled the air and the countdown began, all awaiting the ‘big surprise’.

Alas, Maradona himself wasn’t to turn up but he was reached on the phone, addressing the horde, saying: “God will be with us again and He will give us another victory like 1986.”Whether I find the mention of ‘God’ alarming through its piety or reassuring as it uses the third person, I’m not sure.

Champagne was served shortly after and more preaching did nothing to ebb the torrent of euphoric chanting reverberating off the walls of Pizza Banana’s church all night. Given my nationality and the growing fervour of the pro-‘Mano de Dios’ hymns, I decided to slip off.

Photo by Angus Barthram

Absurd?

Still haunted by the conundrum of such a ridiculous notion juxtaposed with such stern responses from those I asked, I can’t determine whether the Iglesia Maradoniana is a serious joke or an absurd reality, whether Bálo and Hernán Amez were good actors or deadly serious.

The revelry of the service was heightened by the day’s announcement that the inexperienced Maradona is to become Argentina’s new national coach. The absurdity of Maradona being the new coach or, let alone, being God is compounded by the controversy that tarnishes his past. To add to his on-pitch misbehaviour, Maradona has struggled with vices such as alcohol and cocaine addictions as well as obesity and has needed to be medically treated for many health issues.

However, Maradona being God doesn’t seem so ridiculous to all outsiders as a fellow expatriate at the service, Anthony Bale, 23 from Glasgow (interestingly the church has 1,500 Scottish members), told me: “What has Jesus done that Maradona hasn’t? They have both performed miracles, just that Maradona’s are actually on record. The ideologies aren’t so different.”

The next service will be on the 22nd June 2009, visit the website for more details: www.iglesiamaradoniana.com.ar

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28 Responses to “La Iglesia Maradoniana – Argentina’s real religion?”

  1. Robert Conibear says:

    A fantastic article, well written and presented with a host of juicy visual aids just to really hammer it home. Fantastic journalism.

  2. 13-05-09 It was interesting to read about this because CHE GUEVARA has been appearing in U.K. for some time now –
    and has explained the mysteries of TIME. Che was born in Rosario as we know and he died in HIGUERA. He has given many evidences of his continued existence and explains why he has the Christ connection. He came as the Christ people wanted and was slaughtered as thus. Football is a unifying activity especially for the Poor – so it is a God-like outlet for the oppressed-especially theChildren of the world. Che has shown that the King James Bible is, in fact, a BOOK OF SECRETS – and in which a SILVER THREAD has significance. ARGENT is a WORD FOR silver – so:
    ARGENT-IN-A MAN OF ARGENTINA – comes together significantly – for a preplanned purpose-to reveal an identity. Che notes that : when CHRIST arose and touched the FIG TREE to give an example to the disciples – it withered forever and his powers were explained anew. He showed that this is a reference to the fact that: FIG TREE as a Spanish Word is HIGUERA – Bolivia where fate met a fatal ending. Since that moment : October 9th 1967 – the planet has been withering, in real terms, owing to the self-centred greed of controlling mankind – AIDS became a reality. He explains the parallel universe – now closed to us – but as described in Egyptian warnings and Deja vu as a reminder that reality is not what the self-assuming experts say it is. In the Book of Matthew – his powers were described as : electric energy which can move mountains and make storms – as a fatal warning – as being the final alternative to controlling the planet – which is The Ark we were given as our last chance – there is no life in outer space. The Road to Damascus he describes as : time leading up to the Iraq situation and the evil manipulatons of certain politicians – described, also in the Bible as aligned to America and England – to denote Bush and Blair. So, he has given many more real evidences and I share these few with members of Maradonanian Church. They are not wrong to come together. Football has given much life-inspiration to the poor and suffering of Argentina – and other countries of the oppressed Peoples of Earth who Che tried to represent. He is shown as the Time Lord and his life as CHE was his real crucifixion as HEARTACHE cracking :
    to say HE-ART-A-CHE and his truth is marching on. Encclosed is my Intellectual Property and Copyright registered. Che returns to set a new stage – as forewarned and will prove himself to his people. Eve Guevara-Sansom (c)

  3. Alan says:

    WHAT the HELL?

  4. Mario says:

    i dont understand why these people worship someone that is destroying their reputation argentina is about to be left out of the world cup thanks to him…where is “god”now?? Maradona learned all his little tricks by watching Pele do them in the world cup..Pele is the true best player of all time..Maradona should dedicate his time to his little grandaughter instead…LEAVE THE GAME TO THE PROS..I feel sorry for all these “Idolists” that worship in vane…may God have mercy on their souls..How shameful that the team that they hate the most beat them in their own country…Brazil will always be better than Argentina…check the statistics and proove them yourselves

  5. Susana Garcia says:

    Que tristeza me da haberme enterado de esta estupidez en el día de hoy, tristeza y verguenza de ser Argentina, que le pasa a Maradona la Droga lo afectó tanto que cree que es un Dios y todos los demás imbeciles que lo siguen, sean de acá ó de donde sean, Maradona no es ni siquiera ídolo de nadie, solo supo mover las piernas en su momento, se llenó de plata, plata que los imbéciles que lo siguen no tienen, en vez de ser agradecido, de su boca sale una larga fila de insultos, a grandes hombres, habla de lo que no sabe, en un pobre tipo,debió haber nacido mudo, ya no juega, es incapaz de poder ser director técnico, es un mal ejemplo para la juventud, sus hijas pasaron verguenza por este idiota, ojala pierdas con Uruguay Maradona para que sepas que Dios está en el cielo, y vos sos un pobre tipo, lo lamento por los muchacho de la selección, pero vos no valés una mierda, como ser humano no sos nada, la pobre Doña tota debe haber llorado lágrimas de sangre al tener que encerrarlo en una habitación porque estaba drogado, eso no hay plata que lo sustituya, ni casa bonita, tener un hijo así es una verguenza, que Dios te perdone a vos y a la sarta de ignorantes en lo que se ha convertido Argentina, sos una basura.

  6. Basura says:

    Gracias por compartir tal, artículo interesante e informativo.- Basura

  7. Nena says:

    hey dats cool knowiinq ahout Argentiina@
    love iiiiiiiiit bye nena hermosa1

  8. MENYO says:

    KE IDIOTAS ..SIMPLEMETE HUMANOS PERO CON UNA CABEZA LLENA DE ESTUPIDESES Y POS IGUALES LO KE ESTAN DE ACUERDO , SENCILLAMENTE Y UNICAMENTE IDIOTAS… KE PESAR COMO ESTA LA RAZA HUMANA

  9. Juan says:

    Maradonian church?

    Lets Maradona’s fans be happy!!!

    It is their choice to follow any religion, is not it?

    I disagree with Maradona’s past lifestyle, however who else can bring more passion to Argentina and a passionate man?

    Long live Maradona!

  10. articles says:

    WOW I can’t believe a church like this one exist

  11. Cristina Lopera says:

    I can’t believe that this kind of people exist, how can deny the only GOD presence !!!!!!!!!!!! Maradona is bullsh….he’s a simple person, is a sinner , drug addict and he’s not like God NEVER!!!!

  12. sebastronies says:

    oh god…the god has lost to germany……0-4

  13. amanda says:

    Con razon sufrieron semejante humillacion frente a Alemania 4-0 !!!

  14. Patricia salazar says:

    Que Estupidez tan grande cuando vi. Las noticias, lo primero que me pregunte lo triste que dios debe estar al ver cada día, como el mal se apodera de nuestras mentes si casi es una burla ante los ojos de Dios usar esa oración tan hermosa que Dios nos dejo para hablar con el, yo creo mucho en Dios
    y parece que se le olvidan los tres primeros mandamientos

    Amar a Dios con toda tu alma con toda tu mente
    Respetar en nombre del señor
    Santificar el día del señor
    Dios ay uno solo, y solo ay que adorarlo a el es por eso el mundo esta como esta, como el digo una vez clavado en la cruz perdónalos porque no saben lo que hacen, yo me pregunto asta cuando Dios nos perdonara nuestros pecados

  15. edson arantes says:

    ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

  16. Gizmo Samwise says:

    At least this “religion”, along with its god, cannot be held responsible for bloodshed, torture, forced indoctrination, Inquisition, crusades and the like. Long live Maradona!!!

  17. JR says:

    stupid Reporter
    Infamous footballer?
    u are writing about him — so u can get some publicity and become famous

    if he is infamous, why dont u write about someone famous instead of wasting time?

    MARADONA IS THE BEST THERE IS
    EVERYONE ELSE WHO THINKS OTHERWISE WHO CARES CUZ NO ONE KNOWS YOUR SORRY FACES

  18. benjamin says:

    son una bola de pendejos esos argentinos hijos de perra mira que blasfemar de esta manera

  19. alberto says:

    ya es mucho para un drogadicto chanta.no es mas que un humano corriente que ya ni juega bien.en el ultimo partido se ve como lo dejan meter el gol.iglesia de chantas.

  20. alberto says:

    entonses vamos a ser unas iglesias de robotech, de homero, y de ultra heroe, ah y de barni.

  21. mavis adomah says:

    Nuestro Diego, quien se encuentra en las alturas,
    Santificado sea tu pie izquierdo, nos trae su magia. Que sus metas recordado en la tierra como en el cielo,
    Danos un poco de magia cada día, perdona el Inglés, como nosotros hemos perdonado a la mafia napolitana,
    No te dejes Fuera de lugar pitado y nos libere de Havelange y Pelé.
    Diego

  22. ALEX says:

    Si la gente cree en un ser invisible y magico que esta en los cielos y que todo lo ve, como no creer en alguien que vino desde abajo y llevo hasta la gloria maxima a sus equipos, para al final caer en tentaciones y excesos que lo humanizan y lo hace igual a todos nosotros, increible las expresiones de odio de la gente que quiere creer en ese dios que nos implantaron lso conquistadores españoles hace mas de 50 años.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Star du football mondial dans les années 1980, canonisé par les lazaroni et dieu d’une Église évangéliste portant son nom, joueur roublard et génial, orgueilleux et revanchard, ancien toxico qui a le Che tatoué sur le […]

  2. […] Related Link (The Argentimes): La Iglesia Maradoniana – Argentina’s real religion? […]

  3. […] is…Diego Armando Maradona? He is God, according to many Argentines (just go visit the Church of Maradona if that sounds like an exaggeration). He is also a former football player, the world’s greatest, […]

  4. […] figures need to be quiet, grounded types who rarely revel in their own greatness. Diego Maradona (who has a church, Iglesia Maradoniana, of over 100,000 members devoted to him) and Eric Cantona – ‘mon dieu’ (my God) – both have arrogant streaks to their personalities […]

  5. […] tout comme Diego, mais il est disciple doué plus qu’un Messie. Comme un apôtre éclairé de l’église maradonienne, qui rejouerait les grandes scènes de la passion selon D10S. C’est assez hallucinant, faut […]


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