BUENOS AIRES – Tens of thousands of fans who want to honor Diego Maradona lined up next to the coffin of Argentina’s most famous football star on Thursday. Some faced police officers who tried to maintain order in the country’s presidential palace.
Some threw bottles and pieces of metal fences at police in the heart of Buenos Aires, near Casa Rosada. At one point, the officers tried to check them with tear gas.
Fans blew kisses as they passed Maradona’s wooden coffin in the main foyer of the presidential building, some punching their chests with closed fists and shouting, “Let’s go, Diego.”
The coffin was covered with an Argentine flag and jersey No. 10, which was famously worn by the national team. The various football teams thrown by the crying visitors scattered dozens of other shirts scattered around and around the coffin.
Maradona died of a heart attack on Wednesday near a house in Buenos Aires where she recovered from a brain surgery on November 3rd.
The open visit began at 6:15 a.m. local time after a few hours of privacy from family and close friends. First, his daughters and close family members said goodbye. His ex-wife, Claudia Villafañe, came with Maradona’s daughters, Dalma and Gianinna. Later, Verónica Ojeda, also married to their son, Dieguito Fernando.
Jana, whom Maradona recognized as her daughter only a few years ago, also attended the funeral.
Then came former teammates of the 1986 World Cup winning team, including Oscar Ruggeri. Other Argentine footballers have also appeared, such as Boca Juniors Carlos Tévez.
The lines began to form only a few hours before Casa Rosada, after the death of Maradona was confirmed and grew into several blocks. Among those present were fans of Boca Juniors, one of his former clubs, famous barravas.
The first fan to visit was 30-year-old Nahuel de Lima, who was moving on a crutch because of his disability.
“Argentina has been recognized all over the world. He who speaks of Maradona also speaks of Argentina. “de Lima told the Associated Press.” Diego people …. Today, shirts, political flags don’t matter. We came to say goodbye to a great one, which is a lot of joy. “
Maradona’s soccer genius, personal struggles, and clear-speaking personality resonated deeply with the Argentines.
At the 1986 World Cup, he led a disadvantaged team to glory after winning the title after scoring two amazing goals in a semi-final against England and exciting a country that was always humiliated in the recent Falkland War by the loss still against the British, and recovered. from the brutal military dictatorship.
Football stand insults chanted by the funeral crowd echoed this nationalist pride: “He who doesn’t jump is English,” “Brazil, Brazil, you’re so bitter, Maradona is bigger than Pelé.”
Many Argentines sympathized deeply with the struggles of a man who rose from poverty to fame and fortune and abused drugs, drink, and food. He remained an idol in a football-crazy nation like “Pibe de Oro” or “Golden Boy”.
Many fans were proud to present Maradona tattoos. Others, given Maradona’s often tense relationship with the press, insulted journalists.
Lidia and Estela Villalba cried near the exit of the lobby. They both wore Boca Juniors jerseys and an Argentine flag on their shoulders.
“We told him we love that he’s the greatest,” they said at the same time.
Many of those who joined the entrance to Casa Rosada wore masks because of the Covid-19 epidemic, but struggled to maintain social distance.
Social worker Rosa Noemí Monje, 63, said she and others overseeing health protocols understood the emotion of the moment.
“It’s impossible to ask them to move away. We treat them with respect and offer them disinfectant and face masks, ”he said. Monje saluted Maradona for the last time.
“I told him to always win, Diego,” Monje said as she cried.