Diego Maradona was buried local time on Thursday evening in the Jardin de Paz (“Garden of Peace”) cemetery on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Only family members and the closest associates of one of the greatest footballers in history, who died Wednesday, took part in the ceremony.
Thursday from 6 a.m., masses of Argentines said goodbye to their idol. Covered with the national flag with the number 10 played by “Divine Diego”, the coffin containing Maradona’s body was displayed in Casa Rosada (“The Pink House”), as well as the name of the presidential palace and seat of government. The last tribute to the national hero was paid by the country’s president, Alberto Fernandez, who put on the chest the red jersey of Argentinos Juniors, his favorite club where Maradona started his career. The player’s ex-wives and his children showed up.
The chest with Maradona’s body was supposed to be on display until 4pm local time, so at one point the long queue was closed, causing dissatisfaction and aggression among disappointed fans. There were clashes with the police with water cannons and tear gas. As a result, the authorities decided to extend the option to say goodbye to Maradona by three hours, but this deadline was later not met.
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“Applause mingled with tears, and Diego finally said goodbye.”
The relatives urged on Thursday to bury the excellent football player. Before 6 p.m., the coffin was moved with his body to the hearse, which, after a few minutes, accompanied by police officers on motorcycles, left for the cemetery. Along the route, despite the last-minute change, Maradona was joined by thousands of fellow countrymen. Some ran right behind or next to the car with the box, others joined the procession on scooters. People clapped, shouted, sang, sang his name, sang stadium chants, threw scarves and flowers at the car. On the other hand, there were tears and genuine despair.
On the highway, where the traffic was not stopped, the hearse cut through the cars, but they stopped and the drivers honked. In the houses closest to the road, people went up the balconies and roofs.
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The “Garden of Peace”, located on the outskirts of the capital, to which access was guarded by a police cordon, the funeral procession arrived at 7 pm. Maradona was buried in a tomb next to his parents – Dona Tota and Don Diego, as they were called in their homeland. The ceremony in the cemetery, under a specially prepared tent, was attended by relatives and close associates only, about 30 people in total, who recently worked as coach for the legendary football player La Plata Gymnasia.
“After the priest’s speech, the applause was mixed with tears, and finally Diego said goodbye. Maradona is already resting in peace,” wrote the newspaper “La Nacion”.
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“The saddest afternoon for the Argentines”
All Argentine media reported about the mourning ceremonies all day long. Public television, divided into four parts, showed the current events in the city center, the passage of the leadership, the image of the cemetery and recalled the most spectacular games and goals of Maradona. The largest internet portals showed a “minute by minute” report.
“A painful goodbye”, “The saddest afternoon of the Argentines”, “Diego goes to heaven”, “The legend will live forever”, “Diego, with you to the end” – these are some of the Argentine media titles.
In the dark in the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, a light appeared with the figure of Maradona holding the World Cup and the inscription: “Diego, thank you!” The nationwide mourning announced by the president lasts until Saturday.
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Death of Maradona
Maradona, who led Argentina’s national team at the 1986 World Cup and finished second four years later, played for clubs such as Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli. After his career he worked as a trainer incl. He was the national team manager for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
It was no secret that his addiction to alcohol and drugs caused problems during his competitive career. For a long time he had health problems caused by a grueling lifestyle, obesity, and stimulants. In early November, he underwent brain surgery after discovering a subdural hematoma, although he was hospitalized with symptoms of anemia, dehydration and exhaustion, and depression. He left the clinic after nine days.
He died on Wednesday at the age of 60. According to unofficial information, an autopsy showed that the cause of death was severe pulmonary edema, which led to an exacerbation of chronic heart failure and, consequently, to its cessation of action. After a preliminary investigation, the public prosecutor’s office has ruled out the participation of third parties and has also found no signs of a crime.
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Main photo source: ENRIQUE GARCIA MEDINA / PAP / EPA