BUENOS AIRES / OSLO (VG) Death of Diego Maradona makes it possible for supporters from Buenos Aires rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors to throw themselves around each other’s necks and burst into tears together.
More than one million people are expected to visit the Pink House, the presidential palace, to say goodbye to Argentina’s biggest idol on Thursday.
– This is extremely sad. Today we are all together. Which football jersey you wear and which club you belong to does not matter now. We do this for Diego, says Ruben Navarro, who lives a few blocks from the house where Diego Maradona grew up, in the slum of Villa Fiorito. More than 20 buses have been set up to bring residents from the neighborhood to Casa Rosada, Navarro says.
– With his death, there is an end to the magic of football around the world, says Navarro, who himself wears the suit of the club River Plate, the rivals of Maradona’s Boca Juniors. Club affiliation is set aside after Maradona’s death.
The Superclásico between the two Buenos Aires clubs is considered one of the world’s most intense and hateful local clashes. Both clubs originate in La Boca, a working-class neighborhood in the port area of the Argentine capital.
Diego Maradona’s last “serious” football match was just a Superclásico. He played for Boca Juniors, which won 2-1 over River Plate on October 25, 1997.
At times, the football classic has become violent, either between the supporter groups or with the police. In 1968, it ended really badly, when 71 people lost their lives in a clash at River Plates’ home ground El Monumental – after a match that had ended 0-0.
Thousands upon thousands of people line up to pay their respects to Maradona last Thursday, wearing football uniforms and face masks, but close together – with the risk of corona infection.
Supporters from the club San Lorenzo have also turned up. Cintia Vera and Pablo Poclava say it was sad to leave because of Maradona’s coffin.
– I represent my father, who loved Diego and is hospitalized and can not come. This is his football jersey, says Cintia Vera, who says that she got Maradona’s goal during the World Cup in 1986 from inside her mother’s belly.
– He was a God, he created world history. There is no one else who can bring together Argentines like him.
Around 1 pm local time, the mood in the queue to enter the palace increases significantly. The queue extends along 20 blocks. “Diego, Diego in my life, you are the joy of my heart,” sang many hundreds in attendance. Those who come out of the Pink House, on the other hand, are far more marked, many cry, others hold each other.