Amidst the coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a group of South American journalists had a tense and scary encounter with local authorities, but after some interrogation and anxiety, a Diego Maradona tattoo helped to deescalate the situation.
Daniel Matamala, a news anchor for CNN Chile, was one of the journalists detained. Once released, he told the story through his Instagram account.
"Today, at one of the road checkpoints, the police seized our documents, cameras, telephones, and escorted us to the police station," Matamala said. "The first interrogations were tense: it is a country at war, and spies or saboteurs are suspected," he added.
In the group, there was also a crew from the Argentinian channel Telefe. And their nationality was crucial to defuse the tension.
"One of the policemen saw the passports of my Argentine colleagues and among a lot of words in Ukrainian, he said two that we understood: Messi and Maradona," told Matamala. "That's where everything changed. Our great cameraman Juan Zamudio showed that he has a tattoo of Diego Maradona on the calf."
Guillermo Panizza, a journalist for Telefe, then asked for his phone to be returned and show the Ukrainian police a photo he had next to Messi from Copa America 2007.
"It's incredible that he (Messi) helped us get out of a police station in Ukraine. Thank you for this photo and for being Argentine," said an emotional Panizza.
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I have pictures with Chilean Arturo Vidal, Italian legend Franco Baresi, and Latino music sensation Pitbull, and I'm also keeping them on my phone. Because you never know.