The Italian Almanac

he could dance

Italian News - October 17

The show was billed as the comeback of a legend: Diego Maradona would put drug addiction and a weight-loss operation behind him to star in an Italian version of Strictly Come Dancing. But it appears that the shadow of the taxman - rather than the hand of God - has prompted the former footballer, 44, to pull out after three weeks.

Maradona had taken to the show, Dancing with the Stars, with gusto. He found time for the flight from Buenos Aires to Rome every Wednesday and spent two days preparing for the show - broadcast live on Friday evening - before returning home. Two days before the fourth episode, Maradona failed to board his flight and sent word that he was bowing out “for health reasons”. But according to insiders at the state-owned RAI television, it is Maradona’s financial struggles that explain the about-turn.

After Maradona’s first appearance on a studio dancefloor, Giorgio Benvenuto, an opposition MP, tabled a parliamentary question asking why the Treasury had failed to recover any of the money. Stung into action, the Treasury decreed on October 4 that his earnings from the show be confiscated. The next day, Maradona cancelled his flight to Rome.