Maradona Celebrates Argentina’s Win With Middle-Finger Salute

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Saint Petersburg: Argentina soccer legend Diego Maradona has been almost as visible on TV during his country’s World Cup games in Russia as his countrymen on the field. So it was no surprise that the cameras turned on him after Marcus Rojo’s goal in the 86th minute Tuesday, which proved the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over Nigeria that gave Argentina a berth in the Round of 16.

Even less of a surprise, the free-spirited Maradona promptly began flipping off Nigerian fans during the celebration, a gesture that was caught by the global TV feed picked up by Fox and Telemundo in the U.S. during the live broadcast.

Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment today, but it’s the second time a middle finger has taken center stage at this summer’s World Cup. Robbie Williams, while performing during the opening ceremony, flipped the bird directly into an on-field camera — no accident there. Maradona’s was less blatant but no less noticeable.

Fox apologized at the time for the Williams incident, saying the event was “produced by a third party” and “we did not know what would happen during Robbie Williams’ performance.”

Maradona’s middle-finger antics were just the latest in an exhausting game for Maradona-watchers (and Maradona, too, who appeared to doze off at one point after halftime).

Rojo’s goal, meanwhile, broke the suspense in a game Argentina — a favorite entering the tournament sporting one of the world’s best players in Lionel Messi — had to win to advance after a mediocre first two games in a difficult Group D. Messi scored Tuesday’s first goal before Nigeria tied it via penalty kick, setting up the wild finish. Argentina now must play Group C winner France in the next round which begins June 30.

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