There's a famous piece of graffiti which started:

To do is to be - Rousseau.

Then someone wrote underneath: To be is to do - Sartre.


And later, under that: Doo bee doo bee doo - Sinatra.

To which we can now add another line: Don't do as I do - Maradona.

This refers to the hilarious discovery of a moral compass by one of the greatest cheats in football history in the aftermath of England's World Cup penalty shootout win over Colombia's team of brawlers ... sorry, footballers.

Diego Maradona accuses England of cheating and the referees of incompetence? Honestly, haven't laughed so much since I saw my grandma take her teeth out to clean them and turn to leave the bathroom before she realised she'd put the teeth in the plughole and the plug in her mouth.

Talking of plugs in the mouth, Fifa should insist Maradona has one surgically attached. It's bad enough that the man who hand-balled England out of the 1986 World Cup (leading his team to win that tournament) is an official Fifa ambassador and figurehead of its "Legends" programme; he's paid $20,000 for each game he attends.

These days, he physically resembles the bloated love child of Tattoo (from the old TV show Fantasy Island) and Roseanne Barr and has constantly offended at this World Cup - racial gestures, middle finger salutes, smoking cigars in non-smoking areas, and requiring medical treatment when the, ahem, strain got too much. He is the Ambassador of Vulgarity.

To maintain that England's win over Colombia was "monumental theft" was monumental mental gymnastics. On Argentine TV, Maradona said: "Twice, the English threw themselves to the ground and he [the referee] did not admonish them. This was theft ... the penalty [converted by Harry Kane] was not a foul. In fact, it was Kane's fault. The referee is looking somewhere else and when he turns his head, Kane is on the floor. Kane used his arm to hook Sanchez and then threw himself down ... why didn't the referee ask for the VAR? Colombia died standing. That's why I applaud them."

Even for Maradona, this is fantasy outstripping Game of Thrones. Watch the replay: Off the ball, Kane is ridden to the ground by a Colombian defender clambering on to his back in a tackle not out of place on any rugby league field and likely to earn a yellow card in rugby.


It happened right in front of the referee who, instead of looking "somewhere else", as on Planet Maradona (population: 1), saw the incident and acted instantly, no need for a video review.

The Colombians offended all game. Set pieces were more like Big Time Wrestling. Most times Kane got the ball, he was chopped down. One Colombian head-butted Jordan Henderson; they sneakily scuffed the ground at the penalty spot before Kane stepped up - cheating mind games plumbing new depths. At every opportunity and perceived slight, they surrounded the referee, braying like donkeys.

That isn't sport - it's the brawling in the Taiwanese Parliament brought to the football field.

Maradona's perspective demonstrated how deluded even former players can be, how nationalism warps objectivity and the dark art of saying black is really white.

It called to mind the speech last year by Melania Trump; someone had cut and pasted three paragraphs from an earlier Michelle Obama speech in which she had supported her husband, Barack Obama.

One of Melania's "communication advisers", attempting damage control, wrote: "In writing her beautiful speech, Melania's team of writers took notes on her life's inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking."

If Don Diego had a communication adviser (who'd want that job?), he could have written: "In making his beautiful criticism, Diego was reflecting on the inspirations of his life and in some instances used fragments of his own brain."

Maradona later apologised to Fifa and referees but football has to do something about the type of histrionic play-acting endemic in the South American game, but by no means confined to them. Even England, who almost kept their cool, weren't blameless against Colombia.

Surely now, with the VAR mostly getting things right, the time is fast approaching when referees must be better protected from bullying on-field and Maradona-like recriminations off it.

They must be given the power to send off players for dissent, even temporarily. Tough measures will eventually clean up the game and, with the help of VAR, could even sanction players (like Brazil's Neymar) who dive and writhe as if hit by lightning.

It's been around for too long. Remember the estimable Brazilian Rivaldo at the 2002 World Cup? He fell clutching his face after an opponent kicked the ball at him, delivering a tap on the leg of the same viciousness a butterfly might deliver. He conned the ref into sending off a Turkish player.

Brazil won that World Cup, just as Argentina won after Maradona's Hand Of God dispatched England.

This stuff and the dissent have been too ghastly for too long. Time for Fifa to clean up the mess before we all become like Maradona, seeing only what we wish to see, not what actually happened.