The latest chapter in Argentine football legend Diego Maradona’s colorful career will be coaching Mexican second-division club Dorados de Sinaloa, a team owned by a powerful family that, at some point in time, has faced accusations of ties to drug trafficking.
Maradona, 57, raised eyebrows on Friday September 7, with the announcement that he had signed on to manage the struggling club in Sinaloa, a state best known as home to the drug cartel of jailed kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Rumors and jokes immediately swirled online about what interest Maradona, who has publicly struggled with drug addiction, might have in such a deal.
“Maradona is headed to a place full of narcos. What could possibly go wrong?” cracked one Twitter user.
But joking aside, the clan behind the club, the Hank family, has faced accusations of links to Mexico’s lucrative and violent drug trafficking industry.
The family patriarch, Jorge Hank Rhon, is a businessmen and politician whose company, Grupo Caliente, owns an empire of casinos, hotels and a dog racing track in Tijuana, across the US border from San Diego.
The company also owns first-division football club Xolos in Tijuana, in addition to Dorados.
Hank Rhon’s son, Jorgealberto Hank Inzunza, is the president of both clubs.
He said Dorados — who are currently in 13th place in their 15-team league — want Maradona to stay for the remainder of the 2018 season and all of next season.
“In my conversations with him he’s been very excited to come coach here. Honestly, it was easier to convince him than I thought,” he told ESPN.