Maradona: 'In my heart, I am Palestinian'

Maradona: 'In my heart, I am Palestinian'
Football legend and longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause Diego Maradona has told PA President Mahmoud Abbas 'I am Palestinian' during a short encounter in Moscow.
2 min read
16 July, 2018
Diego Maradona is a staunch supporter of Palestine [Getty]

Argentinian Football legend Diego Maradona made yet another statement in support of Palestine on Sunday when he told the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, "In my heart, I am Palestinian".

The retired footballer embraced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow in a short meeting, in which he reiterated his long-standing support for Palestinians and hopes that one day Palestine will be an internationally-recognised sovereign country.

"President Abbas has a country and has a right," he said after the embrace. "This man wants peace in Palestine."

The encounter was uploaded to Maradona's Instagram and gained worldwide traction.

Despite overwhelming support for Maradona's grandiose gesture, there are many who believed Abbas should not have been embraced because of his perceived passivity in securing Palestinian rights.

Abbas is considered unpopular among large sections of the occupied territories, with a poll last year seeing a majority demanding he step down as head of the Palestinian Authority.

Maradona has a history for being unapologetically pro-Palestine. In 2014, the Argentinian blasted Israel for its assault on Gaza during the deadly massacre committed in Operation Protective Edge.

"What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is shameful. That is all… I love you all so much," he said at the time.

Israel's vicious operation killed 2,200 Palestinians, more than 500 of whom were children. A quarter of Gaza's nearly two million population were also displaced in the brutal offensive.

Earlier in 2012, Maradonna expressed his respect towards Palestinains.

"I am the number one fan of the Palestinian people. I respect them and sympathise with them. I support Palestine without any fear," he added, referring to an expected backlash from Israel supporters.

Abbas, whose presidential term of office expired in 2009, was in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He was subjected to criticism at home for choosing to attend Sunday's World Cup final.