Socialist Party president Fred M’membe has described legendary Argentine footballer Diego Maradona as “a socialist and anti-imperialist”.
Maradona, a 1986 football World Cup winner, died from heart attack on Wednesday aged 60.
Dr M’membe said Maradona fought corruption in the football industry.
“Maradona was a leftist on the football fields and also in politics. As a football player he tirelessly fought against corruption in the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), which he compared to a mafia,” Dr M’membe said in a statement. “The Socialist Party (Zambia) joins the progressive world in mourning Diego Maradona.
Maradona, anti-imperialist, socialist and arguably the greatest football player of all time passed away yesterday [Wednesday] at the age of 60. He struggled to unionise football players and in the late 90s, Maradona, with other prominent stars, formed the International Association of Professional Football Players to defend players’ rights.”
He outlined Maradona’s belief in socialist values and how he detested imperialism.
“Maradona, also known as ‘El 10’, openly showed his support to left-wing, socialist and progressive movements and governments in the world and specifically in Latin America. He also openly defied imperialism and colonialism and was a firm supporter of the Palestinian cause saying, ‘In my heart I am Palestinian. I am a defender of the Palestinian people, I respect them and sympathise with them, I support Palestine without fear’,” Dr M’membe said. “He proudly wore a Che Guevara tattoo on his arm and a Fidel Castro one on his leg. He was a close friend and supporter of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Fidel Castro among other socialist leaders. He once said, ‘I believe in Hugo Chávez. I am Chavista. Everything that he and Fidel do, from my point of view, is the best’.”
Dr M’membe said Maradona “remained a committed supporter of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and progressive social movements across Latin America, never losing hope in the poor and the oppressed to emancipate themselves”.