Diego Maradona led Al Wasl to eighth place in the 12-team United Arab Emirates Pro League this past season, a result that was clearly not good enough for the club’s owners. So they fired him, announcing that while Diego was undoubtedly the most gifted technical player ever and a “qualified coach”, they had higher expectations for their team. As a show of how much they respected the man, even while they didn’t want him managing their club anymore, Al Wasl offered to throw Diego a “farewell ceremony.” Diego might have even attended such a party if he acknowledged that Al Wasl had fired him in the first place. But he does not.
In a statement posted to his personal website, Maradona suggested that if Al Wasl wasn’t able to spend money on the players he needed to do better, they’d have to come to some other agreement. But they will come to an agreement.
“It was always my wish to stay in that wonderful land that so welcomed me and I am totally grateful to the sheikh, especially for having received me and given me the opportunity to coach a team from the Emirates.
Unfortunately, the club made a statement that I don’t agree with, because my wish was and is to carry on coaching Al Wasl and if it is impossible for the club to buy players, due to a lack of budget, there will also be the possibility to discuss that together with the board and seek solutions.
I hope to have a meeting soon with the board… [and] I am quite sure they will be well disposed to do so and we will come to a good agreement.”
In other words, when faced with Diego and the brightness of his star in person, there’s no way Al Wasl’s board is going to stick to their decision to terminate the Argentine.
As for the party, Al Wasl officials said it would “reflect on the unique and strong relationship” they had with Maradona. Less strong now, I’d say. But hey, even fired guys can enjoy a party.
Diego is not the first to deny a breakup. There’s a grand history of the move. Here’s a personal favorite from the late-90s TV show Sports Night.