The following Student Series! was for my Quarter on World Religions and has to be one of the coolest/strangest blog projects ever. I got a personal email from my student’s dad that he cannot shut up about this project and how proud he it of his work. That just made me feel fabulous and does not happen everyday 🙂
My student picked such an obscure topic, the Church of Maradona, that we decided he is probably now one of the few experts in the WORLD on this topic. Not every high school can say that!
In today’s society we see athletes as idols and put them on a pedestal for all the world to see. But do they deserve the status of a god? They are definitely in the top-tier of what they do, but to worship them? that is on a whole new level.
Football or “soccer” is the most popular sport in the world. Supporters bleed the colors of the clubs and countries they support. The Church of Maradona takes this support to a whole new level. The followers of this establishment literally worship this man’s “godly” left foot that he displays when he steps on the pitch. With over 120,000 followers, The Church of Maradona worships Diego Maradona, a retired Argentina football legend, as a god. These followers have even created their own Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer, and even have their own religious text.
Biography of Diego Maradona
Diego was born in Argentina on October 30th, 1960. The Argentine was seen as the most talented footballer in the 80’s and even viewed as one of the best all time. Coming from poverty in Buenos Aires, he showed people that he could defy the odds and become a role model for all, and even a God for others. Representing some of the biggest clubs in Europe, Diego made an impact on fans all over the world.
The Church of Maradona
In today’s society there are many forms of religions; all should be respected no matter the beliefs the people follow. The Church of Maradona not only sees Diego Maradona as their god and savior, but see the game itself as something to be worshiped in its own. The followers of this church have very unique ways in which they praise their beloved Diego. The autobiography of Diego Maradona is worshiped and seen as the holiest text and is equivalent to a Christian’s Holy Bible. The followers also have their own Lord’s Prayer!
Our Diego, who art on earth, hallowed be thy left foot, thy magic come, they goals be remembered.
The church followers live through their God Diego. His life is theirs. The dark times he faced with his drug addiction impacted the entire group of followers. They have even changed the current year to meet with the birth of their beloved Diego. For example, the year is 2016, so the year to the Church of Maradona would be 56 AD (After Diego). They celebrate their God Diego’s birthday as a form of Christmas celebration. They decorate their trees with pictures of Maradona, and the colors of the Argentina flag colors, and gather around singing songs and telling memories of their beloved footballer. The Church also has ten set codes that each member must follow to carry on the legacy of the establishment.
Maradona Ten Commandments
- The ball is never soiled
- Love football above all else
- Declare unconditional love for Diego and the beauty of football
- Defend the Argentina shirt
- Spread the news of Diego’s miracles
- Honor the temples where he played and his sacred shirts
- Don’t proclaim Diego as a member of any single team
- Preach and spread the principles of the church
- Make Diego your middle name
- Name your first son Diego
Baptism for the Church of Maradona is the most important event to every member the church. To become a member, one most recreate one of the greatest/most controversial goals to have ever occurred in the footballing world. In the 1986 World Cup, Diego pulled off an “illegal” goal to send his beloved Argentina into the semi-finals of the biggest international tournament in the world. Maradona put the ball past the English keeper with his fist, which is deemed illegal. The referees were at such a tough angle to see the play that they believed he put the ball in with his head. Being in the mid 1980’s there was no such thing as replay reviews in sports at that time to overturn the call.
For one to be baptized they must go through certain steps to recreate the goal known as “The Hand of God.” The follower must put on the sacred #10 Diego Maradona Argentina jersey or “kit” and step in front of a life-size poster of the England keeper from the goal, Peter Shilton. This life size poster is the picture of the exact play they are trying to replicate, but in this case, Diego is cropped out. A ball is tossed into the air and the follower is to recreate the goal by hitting the ball with his outstretched arm by his head past the life size goalie. Once the goal is recreated, the follower receives a certificate and is registered into the population of the church.
Religion is a set of beliefs that one puts their faith into; there are many religions in modern culture. These religions differ in meaning but are the same in the way that people follow, believe, and practice them on a daily basis. Some religions may seem “different” or “weird” to others. The Church of Maradona surely is something that you do not see or hear of on an everyday basis.
Before I started this research on this religion I had no idea this even existed. But after more research I have gained more of a respect for religions I may not have agreed with before. Believing in a religion is based on something they can connect with and something they can put their faith in. Being a supporter and follower of soccer I can see how some fans can give a “godly” status to certain players. I can see how you can believe they perform miracles on the field for their team, and their country. Maradona is a hero to these people. He rose out of poverty-stricken Argentina, where most of these followers grew up, and made it to the big time. He gave these people faith and belief that they can do something with their lives. Doesn’t this sound similar to other religions. Faith? Belief? Worship? The Church of Maradona may not be a traditional and popular religion, but the “goals” they implement are the same of many others.
- “Diego Maradona.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed May 13th, 2016. http://www.britannica.com/biography/Diego-Maradona.
- Bellwood, Tom. “Thou shalt wish Diego happy birthday at Argentina’s First Church of Maradona.” Daily Mail Online. Last modified October 30th, 2008. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1081848/Thou-shalt-wish-Diego-happy-birthday-Church-Maradona.html.
- Franklin, Jonathan. “Diego Maradona.” The Guardian., Last modified November 11th, 2008. https://www.theguardian.com/football/2008/nov/12/diego-maradona-argentina.