Dubai: The Dubai Sports Council (DSC) is set to renew the contract of football legend Diego Maradona as Dubai’s honorary sports ambassador for another year.
Details of the terms of agreement and contract will be announced at a press conference at the Raffles Hotel in Oud Metha on Tuesday.
Maradona first came to the UAE as coach of Al Wasl Club in June 2011. However, after just one season with the Al Zabeel outfit, the 52-year-old Argentine was sacked. Within a month of that setback, however, he was offered his ambassadorial role and, earlier this year, Dr. Ahmad Al Sharif, general secretary of the DSC, said there was “absolutely no grounds why the contract should not be renewed”.
Maradona has been a huge hit throughout his time in Dubai. His first public appearance after taking up his assignment with Al Wasl was for the opening of a jewellery store in Karama, when police found it difficult to control the huge amount of traffic heading to the location.
Since becoming an ambassador, Maradona has made his presence felt at most major events held in the emirate. He attended the final of the Samsung Inter-Continental Beach Soccer Cup and even displayed some of his skills with the ball.
In February and March, he was a regular feature at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. He endeared himself to tennis fans by playing a couple of points against fellow Argentine and recent Wimbledon semi-finalist Juan Martin del Potro. He also presented an autographed jersey to former women’s world number one Caroline Wozniacki.
Not one to shun the public gaze, Maradona turned out for the Dubai Sports Council team in the inaugural Dubai Government Entities Football Championships that concluded in April.
Since leaving Al Wasl, Maradona has been courted by many clubs to accept coaching offers, most prominently by 2011/12 French Ligue 1 champions Montpellier.
Last month, he was awarded 3 million yuan (Dh1.77 million) as compensation by three Chinese companies for using his name in an online game without his consent.