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Painting by Antonio Conte|Maradona

Maradona – Interview with Jvan Sica President of D.A.M. Study Center.

“On the occasion of a wedding I was celebrating in a restaurant with my family.

It was after midnight. The party was almost over but the vibe was that of a party just started. The particular cheerfulness, genuinely sober, went beyond a wedding excitement. In the middle of the evening my father left the ceremony to go to perform in the province of Napoli. Some friends of ours would take my mother, brother and me home.

Upon leaving the restaurant, the atmosphere continued to be sparkling. As we headed towards the exit of the restaurant I heard guests talking enthusiastically but without understanding what was going on. We left the restaurant quickly. I asked my mother why we were leaving in such a hurry. She explained to me that there would be unusual traffic and that, since they would accompany us, she didn’t want our friends to delay any longer.

To get home, from the restaurant, it was inevitable to go along the seafront. Rather than passing along the seafront, we stopped and stayed there for at least 10 minutes with no way out. Our friend opened the window to ask the maddened crowd to unblock the passage with the excuse that there were children in the car and that I was sick. There was a tremendous confusion. For a moment, as I played my part, I raised my head and peered. There were crazy people singing, screaming, someone walking on stationary cars. I was wondering what was happening. It was July 5, 1984, Diego Armando Maradona had arrived in Napoli and the city had gone mad, Napoli had exploded. “

In reality, Diego Armando Maradona had arrived in Napoli the day before, but the newspapers published the news the next day, when there was the official presentation of the soccer player.Four years earlier the city had been injured by the earthquake. Napoli was still paying the consequences of a sad fate and appeared in national newspapers only to be labeled as the territory of the Camorra, land of hatred and decadence. About the most of the community, which, despite of being abandoned by the institutions, found a way to legally survive, as well as about our beauties, about our excellence and our history, nothing was published, perhaps rare mentions.

Although even if they are not fans of history, it is known that Italians are historical football fans. So an event like that of Diego Armando Maradona’s entry into our city was something worth notable. The best soccer player in the world had come to Italy to play in our team. At that time, the president of the Napoli football club Corrado Ferlaino and Antonio Juliano, sporting director, strongly wanted the champion and they experienced a long and troubled negotiation with the Barcelona club. The Pibe de Oro was bought from he Napoli football club for 13 billion dollars . Forty days of negotiations that finally ended with the triumph of the Neapolitans.

“I well remember those years because they have been the only years in which I followed Napoli’s matches. My father has never been a football fanatic. Actually, in the family we followed more judo, athletics and other sports, but when he saw Maradona playing he wanted us to see him too, because it was something spectacular. Watching Maradona playing my brother and I got to know the beauty and fantasy of the game of soccer. With Diego we won two league titles, a Uefa Cup and a Super Cup but most of all Diego Armando Maradona gave us the awareness of “it can be done”, “it must be done” “it is done”! This statement from the north can be interpreted as arrogant but it is not. For too long ignorance has covered people’s eyes, even our own eyes, so much so that even today there is a misconception and a very provincial attitude towards Southern Italy’ people. If a citizen of Northern Italy defends his land he is a patriot, if instead a citizen of the South defends his land he is still today called a lazzarone or brigante. “

Before the miracle arrived (the first Italian championship) Napoli was demolished by resignation but then in those seven years, in addition to the magical sporting moments, thanks to him, we were able to have something more, something that Eduardo Galeano, global soccer’s pre -eminent man of letters, expressed through the following words:

“…Y gracias a Maradona el sur oscuro había logrado, por fin, humillar al norte blanco que lo despreciaba. Copa tras copa, en los estadios italianos y europeos, el club Nápoles vencía, y cada gol era una profanación del orden establecido y una revancha contra la historia.”

(from “Maradona” de “El Fútbol a sol y sombra” de Eduardo Galeano)

(thanks to Maradona the dark South had finally succeeded in humiliating the bright North that despised him. Cup after cup, in the Italian and European stadiums, the Napoli team won, and every goal was a desecration of the established order and a revenge on history.)

However, the spell was broken in 1991, when after the anti-doping operations following the match against Bari, the Neapolitan urchin was forced to leave Italy quickly, leaving all of Napoli in tears.

In that period of accusations and penalties, to pay homage to Diego Armando Maradona, “La classe non e’ acqua” (the class is not water) was born. It was a committee made up of university professors, publishers, lawyers, men of culture, who, in an open letter to the football player, in the newspaper “La Repubblica” expressed all their gratitude to Diego and they also took up his defense against the moralism that had condemned him. They announced a conference, moderated by journalist Gianni Minà, entitled Te Diegum “Genio sregolatezza e bacchettoni” which was held shortly thereafter . Subsequently the book “Te Diegum” was also published.

Maradona was an impulsive man, wonderfully straightforward and authentic. They said everything about him and many people took advantage of his good heart and his lack of interest in money. He used cocaine, as do other sportsmen, he loved women because he was a man, he went out at night in Napoli because it would have been impossible for him to do otherwise, he frequented the people of the people because he was a man of the people. However after training he still trained, often after training he went to play tennis. He has helped children and people in difficulty, even against the wishes of the sports club and with or without ephedrine no one would have been able to do what he only has been able to do. Maybe his biggest fault has that of being so unique. He called himself “all sinister: of foot, of faith, of brain”.

His image has surpassed soccer, reaching even those who are far from it. Diego Armando Maradona is an Argentine who made the revolution with love and a ball. We are fans of Diego and we have decided to dedicate a space to him on each issue of Napulitanamente from now on. Napulitanamente has been pleased to be in connection with the President for the Diego Armando Maradona Study Center, Jvan Sica, who, together with vice president Elio Goka and Professor of Sociology Alfonso Amendola are going to present a series of meetings and events about Maradona. The idea of giving birth to the DAM Study Center was already in embryo before he passed away. Today it is unfolding in a series of studies that will deal with the figure of Maradona from a perspective that goes beyond the football field. Maradona as the central figure of a great contemporary imagination. An ongoing initiative that last December 7 and 14 has presented two seminars held at the University of Salerno. Jvan Sica, president of the “Centro Studi DAM” introduces us into this new journey.

JS – The DAM Study Center was born because, beyond the specific football, Maradona is an extraordinary imaginative tension. It is a chapter of a vast imaginary capable of being a synthesis of revolutionary anxieties and literary narratives, capable of being a visual instigation and an archaic mythology, as well as a collective flow and a popular rebirth. Hence our desire to talk about him in regard to his many “representations”. And not in the desire to incorporate him into categories but only in the desire to observe the many lines of flight of this anti-hero who has crossed two centuries. So everything was born from this explosion of visions.-

Q – In Napoli Maradona is considered like a Saint. By measuring his greatness we realize that it goes far beyond his footballing talent. What does it make him so “mythical” even in the eyes of the uninitiated of soccer? –

JS – The myth is born with the story. Maradona’s narration is internalized, it is inside the DNA of the “voices within”, to put it to Eduardo. This consecrates him to an essential and immortal stage, which also presents itself to the eyes of those who do not love football, transcending sections of the collective imagination, dominating it to a universal extent. Like Ettore and Achille, like Mozart and Beethoven. A name above popularity, because it is within the cornerstones of popularity. An aspect that, as with the myths, also determined his sufferings. The DAM Study Center is currently preparing its first schedule to present the fields of study in advance. The protagonist of the first speech is Prof. Alfonso Amendola, who will write an essay entitled “The football of cruelty. Harmony between Maradona and Artaud ”. –

Q – What are the topics of the seminars presented by the Diego Armando Maradona Study Center last December 7 and 14 at the University of Salerno? –

JS – One of the topics was the seminar entitled ‘Sobre la cresta de uma quimera’, which borrows a verse from the Argentine poet Macedonio Fernandez, that describes Maradona’s childhood spirituality eternally linked to his invincible, resistant intoxication. By reviewing some moments in the history of literature and some authors, from Borges to Isidore Ducasse, focusing on Mayakovsky and Leopoldo Marechal, that path dedicated to Maradona reflects on one of the most intense and, in some ways tragic, inner points of him. In addition to dwelling on some key moments of his soccer career. The other seminar instead investigated the figure of Maradona as a saint, hero, rebel and artist. All sides of a coin that is still bubbling. –

Q – Domenico Rea defined Maradona as a scugnizzo (urchin) born by chance in Buenos Aires and a Neapolitan in all respects. How was Maradona a Neapolitan? –

JS – Domenico Rea’s definition is added to another observation by the Neapolitan writer who in an article defined Maradona as a note of joy in a degraded city. The scugnizzo (street urchin), in its many forms, is an inevitable figure in degraded places. The problem lies in understanding what is meant by degradation, where this concept comes from and what it leads to. In some cases, and this would be the case of Napoli, degradation can be one of the faces of a resistance and Maradona was a metropolitan Indian, torn between his temptation and hardships. Just like a scugnizzo. –

Q -“Maradona embodied the mysticism of underclass emancipation, dissipative and arrogant like the 80s” [Manuel Vazquez Montalbàn].-

JS – Undoubtedly, in Maradona the traits of the wild mystical experience can be traced (see Hulin), from the “suddenness of the experience”, to the “disproportion between intensity and the apparent banality of the signal that causes it”, up to the “irruption of beatitude ”, traits marked by a corpus of rules and rituals that his fans – followers of his cult – have canonized over time, in order to ingratiate themselves with the Sunday Miracle of Maradona. In short, the Holy Maradona deserves an in-depth study, to try to clarify the religious-mythical-mystical complex around D10S, in effect Saint of an unfounded Napulitan Gnostic Church. Just one of the things we want to do with the Study Center. –

Q – Does the Diego Armando Maradona Study Center have any plans for Spring and Summer? –

JS-Initiatives at stake net of the pandemic conditions that overturn the normal procedures of the classic network flows in which culture can move. We are connected with writers and theatrical authors who are thinking of works around the figure of Maradona and about this we have already entrusted various authors and scholars with reflections on the Maradonian figure, starting from their specific disciplinary. The idea is to have the first DAM Study Center “Notebook” as early as September, where there will be reflections ranging from microeconomics to the history of journalism, from theater to visual perception. From then on, if conditions allow it, the next big goal is to organize a conference. But we are still in the midst of the pandemic that has shocked the world, so we think about it politely and calmly. –

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