Football fans are fuming after it was announced Barcelona would play a celebratory game dubbed the ‘Maradona Cup’ in Saudi Arabia later this year… but Napoli haven’t been invited
Barcelona’s Maradona Cup has been slated by fans following the decision to play the game in Saudi Arabia without Napoli.
What was supposed to be seen as a fitting tribute to the late Diego Maradona has turned into a farce according to fans, who claim “money talks”.
Barcelona have announced that they will play Boca Juniors in a one-off friendly match to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of the Argentine footballing legend.
Maradona passed away at the age of 60 following a heart attack last November and the spectacle involving two of his former clubs has been arranged in his honour.
The pair will meet for the Maradona Cup at Mrsool Park in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 14 December.
However, the announcement has been greeted with disdain from footballing fans across the world for a number of reasons.
Following the revelation, fans have slammed the decision to snub Maradona’s former club Napoli, where he arguably enjoyed his most successful spell, winning two Serie A titles, one UEFA Cup, one Coppa Italia and one Italian Super Cup.
The Italian side even renamed their San Paolo Stadium to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium shortly after the club legend passed away last year.
The decision to play the match in Saudi Arabia has also sparked uproar, with fans suggesting the idea of hosting a tribute to Maradona in the middle east is purely a financial one.
One fan posted on Twitter : “This cup should be set up as a way for people to remember Maradona and honour his legacy to football, not as another form of money grabbing by the leaches at the top of the game.”
Another Twitter user added: “This game should involve Napoli and be played in the stadium named after Maradona in front of a fervent crowd, not in the sterile surroundings of Saudi Arabia. Money trumps everything though, I guess.”
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A third sarcastically commented: “Sure, when I think of the Maradona Cup, I immediately think of it being hosted in Saudi Arabia and the game not featuring Napoli.”
In addition to the controversial decisions to stage the match in Saudi Arabia and not invite his former Italian side, fans blasted the fact the game will be played during the La Liga season and given this, not even one year on from the month Maradona died.
“Maradona died in November, might as well do that WHEN THERE IS NO SEASON ONGOING IN JULY. Maradona was a Napoli legend, there is NO REASON TO PLAY IN RIYADH,” one particularly outraged fan tweeted. “F*** this cup it makes no f***ing sense.”
Maradona helped Boca Juniors to the Metropolitano title in 1981 during his first stint at the club and returned to retire there in 1997.
Two years at Spanish giants Barcelona saw Maradona win the Copa Del Rey, Copa de la Liga and Supercopa de Espana before departing for Napoli.
The Golden Boy then enjoyed seven trophy-laden years with the Italian side and led Argentina to their second World Cup in 1986, during his Napoli years.