Buenos Aires: An Argentine legislator has
proposed building a monument to honor Diego Maradona, whose
future as Argentina coach has been uncertain since the team
was eliminated by Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Juan Cabandie, a member of the lower house of the
Argentine congress, sponsored a bill yesterday to honor
Maradona "as an icon of popular Argentine culture."
One of Maradona`s assistant coaches has publicly urged
him to stay in the job after the team was thrashed 4-0 by
Germany on Saturday. A senior member of the Argentine Football
Association has said the decision rests with Maradona, who has
yet to make his plans clear.
Maradona has also received encouragement from Argentina
President Cristina Fernandez, and yesterday two of his players
- starting midfielder Angel Di Maria and substitute goalkeeper
Mariano Andujar - offered their public support.
"The Argentine people have shown that, when it comes to
Maradona, the results are not important," Cabandie said.
"Having been eliminated in the quarterfinals of the World Cup
in South Africa, in a lopsided loss, thousands of people came
to the streets to meet him and his 23 players."
Maradona is reported to be shut away in his house in the
Buenos Aires suburb of Ezeiza. Some newspaper reports suggest
he is depressed and wants to quit. But his unpredictable
nature leads few to say for certain he will step away, with
the South American continental championship - the Copa America
- just a year away and Argentina the host nation.
Building a monument would officially place Maradona in
the pantheon of national icons, joining former President Juan
Peron, his second wife Eva, and Carlos Gardel, the most
important figure in the history of tango.
Maradona led Argentina to its last World Cup title in
1986, the centerpiece of a career in which he was the greatest
player of his generation. The career also had many lows,
including the 1994 World Cup where he was banned after testing
positive for a cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs.
Maradona was appointed national team coach in October
2008 by AFA president Julio Grondona. The tenure has also been
a roller coaster.
Argentina struggled to qualify for the World Cup,
absorbing embarrassing losses against Bolivia (6-1) and Brazil
(3-1). But the team seemed on course in South Africa for a
third World Cup title after group-stage wins against Nigeria,
South Korea and Greece.
It defeated Mexico 3-1 in the round of 16, leading
Maradona to boast about the team`s scoring prowess. Then came
the humiliating loss to Germany, which again led many to
question Maradona`s tactical knowledge.
Though 20,000 fans greeted the team`s arrival on Sunday,
an online poll by the newspaper Clarin showed 63.1 percent
wanted Maradona to quit. Other polls showed similar results.