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LATIN AMERICA | 22-01-2020 12:17

Maduro meets Maradona in Caracas ahead of São Paulo Forum

Gimnasia boss, a long time supporter of Chavismo, visits under-fire socialist leader in Venezuelan capital.

Argentine footballing legend Diego Maradona met Tuesday with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who thanked the icon for his "unconditional support," as the leader was set to begin three days of meetings at the leftist São Paulo Forum. 

"How lovely to see Maradona again in our beloved homeland! Venezuela is your home, friend and soul brother. Welcome!" Maduro tweeted, attaching a video of the two men hugging.  

"Here we are," Maradona, now manager of local club side Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata, said to the socialist leader in the video. 

"I see you rejuvenated ... What did you do to yourself? Is it Gimnasia that has you like this?" Maduro responded, with his hand still on Maradona's left shoulder after an embrace. 

In another post to Twitter, Maduro thanked the legendary player for his "unconditional support" during the "pleasant visit."

During the talk in Caracas, Maradona expressed his support for the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and asked his interlocutor to continue to put up with the United States' blockade. 

Caracas is set to host São Paulo Forum meetings Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

The 1986 World Cup winner will remain in the Venezuelan capital until Thursday, according to Argentinian press reports. 

El Diez's arrival in Caracas comes as Venezuela search for a new national football team coach. Rafael Dudamel resigned earlier this month to sign with Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro.  Maradona has been linked with the post, given his ties with Venezuela. 

Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) sources denied to AFP that Maradona's visit was related to the efforts to find a coach for the team. 

FVF officials announced Monday in a statement that the organisation is still on the lookout for a replacement to lead the team, "preferably" a foreigner.

Among the options at home are Cesar Farias, currently the coach in Bolivia. 

- TIMES/AFP/NA

 

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