Maradona may reconsider India visit after Mumbai attacks

The Mumbai terror attacks have cast a shadow over Diego Maradona's trip to Kolkata, even as the organisers claim the football star's visit is very much on.

updated: November 28, 2008 10:54 IST
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The Mumbai terror attack has cast a shadow over Diego Maradona's two-day trip to Kolkata, even as the organisers claim the iconic Argentine football star's country visit is very much on.

Immediately after the terrorist strike at the country's commercial capital Mumbai, the 1986 World Cup hero's personal manager Sebastian De Monte got in touch with the city-based Celebrity Management Group (CMG) who are instrumental in bringing the football legend to Kolkata.

De Monte inquired about the prevailing situation in Kolkata and whether it was "safe" to travel to Kolkata at a time when terrorists were targetting foreigners, as was seen during the Mumbai attacks.

However, the CMG executive director Bhaswar Goswami assured that Maradona's visit was very much on as it was planned and there's no question mark over the trip.

"It's true that Diego's manager Sebastian enquired about the situation. He wanted to know what was happening in Mumbai and how safe is Kolkata... I said there was nothing to worry about. This (terrorism) is an internal problem, which is happening on an off in the country for the past 20 years.

"There's nothing to worry about, I assured him and he said both Maradona and Claudia (his estranged wife) have started packing for the trip," Goswami said.

So, as of now, the December 5 arrival of Maradona is very much on the cards, he added.

"Afterall, the state government is in-charge of his (Maradona's) security, what is there to worry about. Kolkata is very much safe city, with no history of terror attacks. Moreover, Maradona had been to Israel, so I don't see any reason why he should abort touring India," Goswami said.

Just for information, Maradona is scheduled to arrive in the city on December 5 night. The next day, the Argentine legend will be felicitated in a grand way at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan (YBK) at Salt Lake in a function which is said to attract about 1.2 lakh spectators.

Currently the national coach of Argentina football team, Maradona is also scheduled to lay the foundation stone of the Indian Football School (IFS) at Maheshtala, near Kolkata and attend a clinic for the aspiring footballers in a series of programmes planned for the legend's first visit here.

Apparently, Maradona has signed and confirmed the itinerary when Goswami and CPI (M) MP Samik Lahiri called on at the Argentine's residence in Buenos Aires.

According to unofficial sources, 40 per cent of teh payment for Maradona's visit has already been made long back, while the remaining is said to be despatched by Monday.

The recent terror strike, it may be noted, cut short England's ODI seven-match series with the remaining two one-dayers in Guwahati and Delhi put off, while there is question mark over the Champions League Twenty20.