x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai Sports Council appoints Maradona as sports 'ambassador'

The Argentine legend signs a one-year deal to be an envoy to 'promote sports in Dubai as a lifestyle choice'.

Former Al Wasl coach Diego Maradona will remain in Dubai as a sports ambassador
Former Al Wasl coach Diego Maradona will remain in Dubai as a sports ambassador

DUBAI // Former Al Wasl manager Diego Maradona is to remain in Dubai as a sports envoy for the city following his sacking by Al Wasl during the summer.

The Argentine legend, dismissed by the Pro League side mid-way through his two-year coaching contract, has signed a one-year deal with the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) “to develop and promote sports in Dubai as a lifestyle choice”.

The appointment is as per the directives of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of DSC.

“I thank Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan and also the DSC for giving me this honour and I think this is a huge responsibility on my shoulders,” Maradona said after signing the deal.

“I will spare no efforts in helping the DSC to develop sports in Dubai and help them create future stars who will shine in international field.

“I discussed matters with DSC and found they are serious in developing sports in Dubai and we emphasised that we have to put in more efforts to make this come true.”

Maradona had been linked with a number of coaching jobs, in China and elsewhere, since his exit from Wasl, but the 1986 World Cup winner did not find the offers “satisfactory”.

The 51-year-old was also looking for a change as he was tired of “conducting interviews from morning to evening”.

“I want to change my lifestyle,” he said. “I want to wear a suit and attend meetings.”

In his new job, the Argentine, according to a statement released by DSC, will “leverage his experiences to develop the game of football in Dubai, participate in national and international conferences in the emirate and also highlight ideas to continue improvement of the sports landscape in Dubai”.

Maradona is excited about his new role and said: “Many say that I have fallen, but this is not true. I am coming back strongly with DSC. I have witnessed so many difficulties in life and faced catastrophes, but I want to be dedicated to what I do.”

“With DSC, I will not only contribute towards developing football, but also other sports. The DSC and I have discussed a few ideas regarding what should be done in the coming period in the field of sports to discover new talents. This was the greatest incentive for me to accept this mission.”

Dr Ahmad Al Sharif, the Secretary General of DSC, was looking forward Maradona’s appointment playing “a positive role in driving greater participation in sports here in Dubai and also to continue bringing more world-class sporting events to Dubai”.

“With such an international position and great talent, he can do more than anyone else can do: he can reach the new generation of talented athletes and motivate them to shine and achieve greater success,” Dr Al Sharif said.

According to Dr Al Sharif, Maradona’s first task will be to help with the football academies at the different Dubai clubs.

“Many do not know the other side of Maradona,” Dr Al Sharif said. “He is a humble person and besides being a legend he is also a role model and an expert, and we would like to use his experience in Argentina and Italy, and we want to benefit from his experience.”

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