Tributes have been paid to the late Diego Maradona at sporting events across the world over the weekend after the Argentine legend’s death mid-week.
A minute’s remembrance was observed at football games around the globe this weekend, from amateur to the top professional leagues. However, one female player refused to stand during a minute’s silence before a women’s friendly match between Viajes Interrias FF and Deportivo Abanca in Coruña, Spain — instead choosing to sit on the floor with her back turned while the rest of the players stood with their heads bowed in respect. Paula Dapena, a 24-year-old player for Viajes Interrias FF, is well-known among her team mates for being a woman of strong feminist ideals. When she arrived at the ground in Abegondo, she revealed that she had not been aware that there would be a minute’s silence for Maradona. “As soon as I found out that there would be an act in his memory I refused to observe the minute’s silence for a rapist, paedophile and abuser,” Dapena said. Dapena pointed out that it had hardly been three days since a commemorative act took place before a friendly game in recognition of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, but which did not include a minute’s silence. “A minute’s silence was not observed for the victims. So, obviously, I’m not willing to observe one for an abuser and not for the victims,” she said. The Viajes Interrias FF player recognised Maradona’s importance to the history of football, saying he was a sportsman with a “spectacular footballing gift” but adding that she refused to pay tribute to him because she believes that “to be a player, you have to have values beyond your abilities.” Dapena was the only player who decided not to take part in the minute’s silence, but according a report by local news outlet PontevedraViva, she had the support from inside the ground, including from the coach of the opposing team, who said she understood her actions after having asked her at half time why she had chosen to sit on the floor during the minute’s silence.