Three funeral workers have been fired for posing for photos alongside the body of football star Diego Maradona shortly before his funeral.
- One of the men photographed with Maradona’s body said it was not planned
- He said he had been receiving death threats
- Argentina continues to mourn the footballer
The images were distributed across social media, creating outrage, even death threats, across Argentina, which venerates Maradona.
The charismatic football player, world champion with the Argentine national team in the 1986 World Cup, died on Wednesday at his home in the suburbs of Buenos Aires due to heart failure.
Tens of thousands lined up for a chance to file past his body at the nation’s presidential palace on Thursday.
Claudio Fernández confirmed to Radio Diez he had lost his job at the Pinier funeral home, along with his son Ismael and Claudio Medina.
One of the images shows Mr Fernández and his son — smiling and with thumb raised — alongside Maradona’s body in the coffin on Thursday. Medina appears in another in the same pose.
Mr Fernández insisted he had not known anyone planned to take a photograph, much less distribute it.
“It was something instantaneous,” he told the radio station
“I’d just raised my head and my son did it like any kid of 18.”
He said he had been receiving threats from others living in the El Paternal neighbourhood where Maradona debuted as a professional in 1976 with the Argentinos Juniors team.
“They know me. I’m from the neighbourhood,” Mr Fernández said.
“They say they are going to kill us, break our heads.”
Argentinos Juniors issued a statement saying it was considering expelling Mr Fernández from its membership rolls.
‘I love you, Pa’
Meanwhile, one of Maradona’s daughters, Dalma Maradona, has paid tribute to her father on Instagram.
“I’ve always been afraid of dying, but not anymore,” she wrote.
“Because that will be the moment that I’ll get to see you and hug you again!
“I love you, Pa.”
Argentina continues to mourn
The city of Buenos Aires was recovering on Friday following the outpouring of grief at the Casa Rosada, where Maradona lay in state before his funeral.
Fans were still seeking comfort and cleaners were working to return order to the streets that surround the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the presidential palace.
Under the orders of the Federal Government, the flags in public buildings were at half-mast for the three days of national mourning.
“Diego died and everything changed,” said Maria Eugenia, a 30-year-old employee in the famous La Boca neighbourhood, where the Boca Juniors court is located, the club of which Maradona was a player and a fan.
She had taken her five-year-old son to a memorial site organised by the fans at one of the stadium entrances.
“I hope we can all move on.”
Maradona, 60, was buried during an intimate ceremony in Argentina late on Thursday.
It followed a massive farewell from fans, sports and political personalities.
On the way to the cemetery, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, thousands of people stationed next to the highways greeted the procession.
“Personally, I say, I hope he is where he needs to be, he is happy and calm,” Wilbert Quispe, a 37-year-old tour guide said.
“I think he found the peace that he was looking for.”
Maradona had suffered various health problems and weeks ago he had undergone surgery for a subdural hematoma.
“Nobody was used to this, nobody tells you what you have to say or how you have to live without the greatest person in the world,” said Daniel Hernan Lopez, a 41-year-old electrician while taking photos in front of the memorial site, where fans left candles, flags, flowers and posters.
“For me, the important thing is what Diego did, like bringing us the Cup.”
“We must be grateful and nothing more than that,” he added.