Celebrate the World Cup with these bloody, sexy true crime soccer stories

Badlands is a spinoff of the popular rock n' roll true crime podcast Disgraceland, with lurid stories of sex, drugs, and murder in other celebrity cultures. And just in time for the World Cup, the new season takes a look at the seedy underbelly of soccer.

I had the honor of writing the kickoff episode, focused on Diego Maradona — the Imperialist crusader from Argentina behind the infamous "Hand of God" World Cup win, who lived out his last few decades in increasingly impressive bouts of shame and disappointment. Here's the official episode description:

Busted for drugs. Busted for prostitution. Busted for shooting an air rifle at reporters. Associated with one of the biggest and oldest organized crime families in Italy. Blood stolen by nurses and treated like a sacred relic. Despite all of this, Diego Maradona somehow still showed up the next day and played a great game of soccer. He even turned a soccer match into a weapon during a centuries-long war between England and Argentina. Diego Maradona was more than one of the greatest of all time – he was also one of the most infamous.

You can listen to the episode at the usual podcast places: Amazon Music, iHeart, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, etc. The rest of the season features episodes on Paul Gascoigne, Andrés Escobar, Bruno Fernandes de Souza, and the infamous Hillsborough Disaster; new ones drop every Wednesday, or you can listen to the full season on Amazon Music right now. (There are also a few episodes about American Football, if that's more your speed.)

Diego Maradona: Stolen Blood, Italian Gangsters, and the Hand of God [Thom Dunn / Badlands]

Badlands, Season 6: Sportsland

Image: Diego Torres Silvestre / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)