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Diego Maradona laid to rest in private ceremony in Buenos Aires

Only family members and close friends were permitted at Jardin Bella Vista cemetery for the burial of Diego Maradona next to the graves of his parents, Dalma and Diego; fans waving Argentine flags had gathered along roads as Maradona’s funeral car drove by under heavy security

By AP Sport

Diego Maradona was buried on Thursday in a private ceremony attended by only two dozen people.

Maradona died Wednesday of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation.

Only family members and close friends were permitted at Jardin Bella Vista cemetery for the final religious ceremony and burial of Maradona next to the graves of his parents, Dalma and Diego.

Fans waving Argentine flags had gathered along roads as Maradona’s funeral car drove by under heavy security. Many tried to touch the vehicle whenever it was stopped by traffic.

Maradona
Image:Fans flocked the streets to mourn Maradona as he was laid to rest

The earlier viewing at the Argentine presidential mansion was halted shortly before 6pm, 12 hours after it started, as Maradona’s family wished and the body of the Argentine icon was taken away for burial, frustrating many who were waiting to pay their respects and causing new tensions at the gates of the cemetery.

Fans, some draped in the national flag, sang football anthems as they formed a line that stretched more than 20 blocks from the Plaza de Mayo, where Argentines gathered to celebrate the Maradona-led triumph in the 1986 World Cup.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 26:  on November 26, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Maradona died of a heart attack at his home on Thursday 25 aged 60 . He is considered among the best footballers in history and lead his national team to the World Cup in 1986. President of Argentina Alberto Fernandez declared three days of national mourning. (Photo by Federico Peretti/Getty Images)
Image:The streets of Buenos Aires were filled with adoring fans to pay tribute to Maradona

But with the time for viewing the coffin at the presidential palace drawing short, police moved to cut off the back end of the crowd, enraging fans who hurled rocks and other objects at officers, who responded with rubber bullets.

The crowd overwhelmed organisers and the violence resulted in injuries and arrests, which led Maradona’s family to end the public visitation. The casket was placed in a car that carried the former footballer’s name on a paperboard by the window.

Desperate to say goodbye, Maradona’s fans climbed on the fences of the presidential mansion as if they were in a football stadium, while firefighters worked to clear the ground.

Fans pay tribute to Maradona.
Image:Fans were desperate to say goodbye to Maradona

“Diego is not dead, Diego lives in the people,” the crowd chanted as the coffin was taken to a cemetery outside Buenos Aires.

The motorcade, accompanied by police, was followed on a local highway by dozens of honking cars and motorcycles.
Hundreds of fans blocked entry to the cemetery before the arrival of Maradona’s casket, dancing and chanting as police moved in to open a way. The crowd continued making noise after the final ceremony began.

The Stadio San Paolo was illuminated in Diego Maradona's honour
Image:Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo stadium was illuminated in Maradona’s honour after the news of his death was announced

Napoli paid tribute to Maradona, their former player, before their 2-0 win over HNK Rijeka in the Europa League. Fans gathered outside the stadium to pay their respects to the Argentinian, with a number of them also laying flowers and memorabilia.

The Premier League has asked all clubs to hold a minute’s applause and wear black armbands to honour Maradona at each of this weekend’s fixtures.

‘Funeral workers fired after Maradona body pose’

A flower car leads Diego Maradona's hearse into the cemetery ahead of his private burial
Image:A flower car leads Diego Maradona’s hearse into the cemetery ahead of his private burial

Three funeral workers have been fired for posing for photos alongside the body of Maradona shortly before his funeral.

The images distributed across social media created outrage and even death threats, across a nation that venerated Maradona, who died on Wednesday of a heart attack at the age of 60.

Mourners pay their respects to Maradona
Image:Mourners pay their respects to Maradona

Tens of thousands lined up for a chance to file past his body at the nation’s presidential palace on Thursday.

Claudio Fernandez confirmed to Radio Diez on Friday that he had lost his job at the Pinier funeral home, along with his son Ismael and Claudio Medina.

One of the images shows Fernandez 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.

Fernandez insisted that he had not known they had planned to take a photograph, much less distribute it. He told the radio station that the act was something instantaneous.

He since revealed they had been receiving threats from others living in the El Paternal neighbourhood where Maradona debuted as a professional in 1976 with Argentinos Juniors.

“They know me. I’m from the neighbourhood,” Fernandez said. “They say they are going to kill us, break our heads.”

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