Maradona has been facing a massive backlash on social media as he was spotted flipping off his middle fingers during a live broadcast while celebrating Marcos Rojo’s fortuitous goal in the 86th minute, giving Argentina a 2-1 victory over Nigeria.
The gesture couldn’t go unnoticed by Twitter users, who rushed to accuse Maradona of disrespectful behavior, suggesting that the gesture was meant for the Nigerian fans:
Diego Maradona is a footballing legend, but his behaviour and latest antics are far from inspiring. Again, letting himself down buy putting his fingers up to the Nigeria fans when Argentina scored.— Samuel Leon Powell (@sammylpowell) 26 июня 2018 г.
Not what it’s all about. Nigeria have been brilliant. They deserve respect.
Maradona raised a middle finger to us and you still supported Argentina, You people are crazy, you people are mad and only God can help you— The Naija Spirit🦅🇳🇬 (@its_hammadrabiu) 26 июня 2018 г.
Maradona has:— Casanova 🇯🇲 (@KRUZAA_) 26 июня 2018 г.
Slept during your match
Danced with your women
Given you the finger after scoring
You’ve got to on sight him.
Believe me… The only thing that annoyed me about this match was Maradona giving us his middle fingers. No respect, no pride and no honour!— JOS Raised Me• (@Ekkotruly) 26 июня 2018 г.
He was so high he couldn't even walk out of the stadium on his own.
How shameful… He just lost all my respect for him! #NGAARG #WorldCup
Maradona either sleeping or giving the double FU fingers👎👎👎— Stephen malkmus (@dronecoma) 26 июня 2018 г.
Maradona is simply a racist.— ionx (@sanomarion) 26 июня 2018 г.
Mehn, the middle finger was totally unnecessarily, your country has scored so why that reaction?
Some stressed that all eyes have been on Maradona’s antics despite Argentina’s big win:
Argentina wins, yet the only pictures you see on Twitter are those of Maradona giving the middle finger to the entire Nigerian nation.— Ali (@RM_Insider) 26 июня 2018 г.
Twitter, you’re doing great sweety.
Another user said that he should be banned from stadiums – which would be in line with FIFA’s strict code of conduct, prohibiting racist and offensive language:
This guy should be banned from stadium. He damages argentinian image. He's disgusting.— Prolactancia (@dralirat) 26 июня 2018 г.
A fellow Twitterian made a reference to reports about Maradona’s hospitalization after the game, which the Argentine later denied on his Instagram:
Maradona taken to hospital. You can't show Nigerians the middle finger and live to tell the story 😂😂😂— RT MY PINNED TWEET 🙏 (@LordChroma) 26 июня 2018 г.
Others, however, didn’t take Maradona’s flipping the bird seriously, describing it as “the best thing” they’ve ever seen…
MARADONA WITH THE DOUBLE MIDDLE FINGER ON LIVE TV I LOVE IT— Uncle Boi Ranch (@_DSanch) 26 июня 2018 г.
Hahahahahahaha Maradona sticking his middle fingers up on BBC is what I live for— Wolf (@WolfOfFUTStreet) 26 июня 2018 г.
Maradona off his chops sticking his middle fingers up to the Nigerians is the best thing I’ve ever seen 😂— Lush (@KieranLusher) 26 июня 2018 г.
…and alluding to his iconic “hand of God” goal against England in the quarter-finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico City:
In 1986 Maradona performed the "Hand of God"— 𝙞𝙗𝙧𝙖𝙝𝙞𝙢🎈 (@waddey) 26 июня 2018 г.
In 2018 Maradona performed the "Finger of God"
Did Maradona just give ‘the finger’ to the fans after the goal? @GaryLineker From the hand of god to the finger of god. If so the man should be banned.— Richard Jones (@Richard_Jones63) 26 июня 2018 г.
Meanwhile, some said that the gesture wasn’t racist, but he should be punished for the outburst:
I don't think the finger gesture by Maradona makes him a racist, he should be punished, I agree. But calling him a racist is a reach.— Mr. Jack Robinson (@jackdre02) 27 июня 2018 г.
There were those who urged to stop “speculations” that the fingers were for Nigerian fans and offered their explanation:
It wasn't for Nigerian fans, stop especulating without proof. It was for a group of Argentinian journalist who had pretty harsh critics to team the days before the game. And yes he was probably super high, but that's he's problem. Hes never defined himself as an example for kids— Luis G. Rangel 🇵🇸 💚 (@lgrangelborjas) 27 июня 2018 г.
I don't think it was at the Nigerian fans at all. From what he says "puto", it looks as though it's aimed at the Argentinean manager.— James M (@jimmymast78) 26 июня 2018 г.
And he's always had problems with the argentina coach so probably the gesture was to him or haters not Nigerian team— Opeolu 'Alpha-Yomi' (@alpha_yomi) 27 июня 2018 г.
On Tuesday, Argentina’s national football squad beat Nigeria’s team 2-1 in their final Group D match to advance to the knockout stage, where they will face Group C winners France in Kazan on Saturday.