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Talk To The Hand: Russian Cops Block Maradona From World Cup Car Park


Maradona's "Hand of God" goal against England at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico is one of the most famous goals in soccer history.

Soccer legend Diego Maradona's ability to get around defenders garnered him worldwide fame.

But getting around security at the World Cup in Russia proved to be a tall task for the former star of Argentina's national team.

Russian security guards and an officer from a special OMON police unit prevented Maradona from entering a VIP parking garage at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium following the Russian team's 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on June 14, even after he showed his tournament badge.

Video of the incident was published in a June 14 tweet by a journalist with R-Sport, a news outlet that is part of Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. R-Sport published -- and then later removed -- a short report based on the video.

R-Sport's editor in chief, Aleksandr Kalmykov, did not respond to a request for comment by RFE/RL on why the report was taken down.

The Belarusian service of Russia's state-run Sputnik news agency covered the incident as well but did not remove its report.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended the tournament's opening match that the hosts won, is striving to present Russia in a positive light for the monthlong competition.

The tournament comes amid heightened tension between Russia and the West over issues including Moscow's interference in Ukraine, its alleged meddling in elections abroad, and the nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in England.

During the June 14 incident at the World Cup stadium, two individuals wearing badges and jackets bearing the FIFA logo pleaded with security guards in vain to let Maradona pass.

Eventually, a man can be heard saying in English, "We're waiting because there is a head of state."

Russian organizers had said they expected more than 20 heads of state to attend the opening game.

As Maradona and his entourage walked away, another man could be heard saying in Russian that he should try a different entrance.

The R-Sport journalist who posted video footage of the encounter, Semyon Galkevich, wrote in his accompanying tweet: "Nuts. OMON didn't recognize Maradona and didn't let him into the parking lot."

Attempts to reach Galkevich for comment were unsuccessful. But he said in a subsequent tweet on June 15 that the incident may have simply been the result of a "misunderstanding."

Maradona and Brazilian legend Pele in 2000 were jointly named the greatest soccer players of the 20th century in an award created by FIFA.

Maradona's "Hand of God" goal against England at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico is one of the most famous goals in soccer history, though he scored a memorable game-winner later in that same game.

Maradona in April stepped down as coach of a second-division team in the United Arab Emirates and last month signed a three-year contract to serve as club chairman of Dynamo Brest in the Belarusian Premier League.

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