Weekend watch: Maradona in Mexico

How would you handle the Hand of God’s Twitter feed? Netflix certainly scored big with Maradona documentary last year.

Maradona in Mexico is a proverbial ‘big fish in a little pond’ tale (think: the opposite of Finding Nemo) which documents the global footballing icon’s time as manager of struggling second division club Dorados FC.

This partnership aims to achieve promotion for Dorados back to the first division and give the people of Culiacan, a crime-ridden, cocaine hued city where the club is situated, something to smile about.

Does this seemingly odd pairing yield positive results? Well that’s not for me to spoil here but the situation would certainly be attractive to any media-savvy person.

The documentary itself is typical fayre – interviews with the chairman, players, fans and even the great man himself are woven in with clips of matches, local media punditry and news reports – but the story is fully engrossing.

It’s never really explained why Maradona pitches up to Dorados in the first place – the chairman describes potentially working with someone like Maradona as ‘a dream’; Maradona ends a text conversation with ‘Maradona is coming’; the local media speculate Maradona is only coming to sample the drug culture – but, once you get passed the ‘novelty factor’ (for example, the Dorados players unironically wear bibs emblazoned with the words ‘football’ and ‘Charly’ on them), you realise how seriously the Argentinian World Cup winner did take his job role.

But just the very rumour of Maradona potentially coming to this small football club put Dorados on the map before he even arrived. Local and even international media were spotlighting the story and, once confirmed, the ensuing media scrum at the airport meant it took him longer to get out then if he had ‘something to declare’.

Everyone was suddenly interested in Dorados and simple training sessions were suddenly attended by media from all over the globe, ensuring the club press officer’s workload skyrocketed overnight.

This is a real ‘double-edged sword’ situation for someone in that position. The increased attention means more engagement and more avenues to promote the club, but negative aspects get heightened too – bad results and off-the-field drama can easily encourage teasing memes and fan backlash, and there is plenty of those scattered throughout the show.

But the press officer did use the situation to her advantage too – she got Maradona to sit down for a one-on-one interview which sees him open up about his life away from the football pitch – it is riveting and thought-provoking stuff. 

There is definitely something to all this – I was not a huge Maradona fan nor an avid watcher of Mexican football before seeing this, but I now understand more about the man behind the myth and I also now follow Dorados on Twitter.

Oh, I also transferred to Dorados on my mobile football game too – did I do better or worse than Maradona I hear you ask? Well, come back and ask once you’ve seen this wonderful slice of football drama.

Written by Stoke & Dagger contributor James Barrett-Sterling. All episodes of Maradona In Mexico are streaming now via Netflix.