Paula Dapena, a footballer from Spanish third division women’s club Viajes InterRias FF, has been receiving death threats after she refused to take part in a minute’s silence for Diego Maradona during the Saturday’s game against Deportivo La Coruna. The 24-year-old Dapena decided not to join in her teammates in paying a tribute to the Argentine footballer Maradona, who passed away after suffering a heart attack. He was 60.
In protest, Dapena sat on the pitch with her back turned while her teammates lined up around her in memory of 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,” said Dapena according to Spanish media outlet AS.
Paula Dapena, la jugadora que se ha negado a guardar un minuto de silencio por Maradona.
— Cristina Hernández (@Cristina_H_) November 29, 2020
Top footballers – including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – have been paying respects to Maradona since his passing on November 25. “It’s not just me that has been harassed on social media but also my teammates,” Dapena said, report AS. “We have also received death threats and messages such as ‘I’m going to find your home address and go there and break your legs.'”
The Argentine World Cup winner, Maradona passed away on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Previously, he had been accused of domestic violence in 2014 when a video surfaced online and showed him physically abusing his wife Oliva. Denying the accusations, however, he said at the time, “I grabbed the phone but I swear to God that I have never hit a woman. The incident was over immediately. I threw the phone but nothing else.” No charges were brought.
“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,” Dapena, a teacher by profession, protested.
Maradona was ‘known for being an abuser’
Unwilling to honour Maradona, Dapena called the act as “hypocritical”. She claimed, “It seems hypocritical to observe a minute’s silence for Maradona, who was known for being an abuser, and not [observe] it for the victims of violence against women.”
The Viajes Interrias FF midfielder further noted, “It [Maradona’s death] totally overshadowed that day. We went from putting the spotlight on the death of women due to this cause to talking only about Maradona and what an idol he was for everyone.”
“For me, from a football standpoint, Maradona had spectacular skills and qualities. But as a person, he left a lot to be desired,” she said. Additionally, she said she was “surprised” and upset to see that she was the only female footballer who refused to honour Maradona. “To have observed a minute’s silence and honoured him would have gone against my values,” she added. “I couldn’t do it.”
Many have been supporting her action and courage. Check out:
She lost as a player…She won as a human… you choose what’s more important for you. Bravo #PaulaDapena
— Juan Pinto (@pintoejd) November 30, 2020
Well done #PaulaDapena many other women would have sat with you.
— Mattie (@Mattie82710983) November 30, 2020
I appreciate #PaulaDapena's courage and standing for what she values about. #Maradona was obviously a legend soccer player but not immune from criticism. I wonder whether there will be a comment by @SocratesDergi about this.
— Mustafa Ozkaynak (@mozkaynak) November 30, 2020