What is the Church of Maradona and its 10 Commandments? Fans deified late footballer as miracle-creating 'god'

Adherents are known to chant this prayer: 'Our Father, Diego, Who art on earth / Hallowed be thy left foot / Thy magic come, Thy goals be remembered.' To enter the holy Church of Maradona, you have to undergo the baptismal rite of scoring a 'Hand of God' goal


                            What is the Church of Maradona and its 10 Commandments? Fans deified late footballer as miracle-creating 'god'
(Getty Images)

Sports can be a religious experience and three fans of Diego Maradona believed he was their god. A year after Maradona retired, Héctor Campomar, Alejandro Verón and Hernán Amez, started the 'Iglesia Maradoniana' or the "Church of Maradona" to turn the legendary footballer into a living god.

Founded on October 30, 1998, Maradona's 38th birthday, the birthplace of the religion was the city of Rosario, Argentina. "Our religion is football and, like all religions, it must have a god. We will never forget the miracles he showed on the pitch and the spirit he awoke in us, the fanatics," said Alejandro Verón in an interview about why he and his friends started the church. 

Just like how the Christian calender starts with the birth of Jesus Christ as year one AD, adherents of this church counts years from Maradona's birth on October 30, 1960. It is now currently the year 61 d.D (después de Diego), according to the Church of Maradona, having just completed 60 years and one month in "Maradona time". The Church of Maradona is often seen as a type of syncretism or parody religion that mimics the Catholic Church tenets and prayers. Adherents are known to chant this prayer: "Our Father, Diego, Who art on earth / Hallowed be thy left foot / Thy magic come, Thy goals be remembered."

Argentina player Diego Maradona is challenged by England player Terry Fenwick as Kenny Sansom (l) looks on during the FIFA 1986 World Cup quarter-finals defeat by Argentina in the Azteca stadium on June 22, 1986 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Getty Images)

It has two main "feast days" or religious celebrations. June 22 is celebrated as the Maradonian Easter, which commemorates the infamous 'Hand of God' goal and the 'Goal of the Century' -- the two "miracles" that occurred during the 1986 World Cup. October 29 is Christmas Eve that is followed by Christmas Day, the birthday of their "messiah" Diego Maradona, and the annual Mardonian Christmas. 

It even has its own 'Ten Commandments'. They are, as follows:
1) The ball is never soiled.
2) Love football above all else.
3) Declare unconditional love for Diego and the beauty of football.
4) Defend the Argentina shirt.
5) Spread the news of Diego's miracles throughout the universe.
6) Honor the temples where he played and his sacred shirts.
7) Don't proclaim Diego as a member of any single team.
8) Preach and spread the principles of the Church of Maradona.
9) Make Diego your middle name and name your first son Diego.
10) Don't live estranged from reality and don't be useless.

The tenth commandment is on a bit of a shaky ground since fans always have to be a little "estranged from reality" to worship their idols, but the paradox doesn't bother its followers from all over the world. Yes, since its humble beginnings, the religion has spread across the world and now has approximately half a million followers, according to the Church website. To enter the holy Church of Maradona, you have to undergo the baptismal rite of scoring a 'Hand of God' goal. The aim is to get the cherished certificate that sets you apart as someone who worships the late Maradona.

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