Around one million people bid farewell to late football legend Diego Maradona on Thursday, as his body lay in state at Casa Rosada, the Argentine presidential headquarters in the capital Buenos Aires.
Many fans, including Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and his wife, sobbed, some clapped and others left tokens of gratitude, as they filed past Maradona’s coffin after waiting patiently in long lines to enter the building, which opened at 06:00 local time for a ceremony expected to last 10 hours.
Inside Casa Rosada, most of the visitors burst into tears as they passed in front of the coffin, which was covered with the Argentine national flag and two football jerseys, one belonging to the national team and the other to Boca Juniors, with his emblematic No. 10.
Despite the threat of COVID-19 across the country, many people chose to leave their houses to pay their last respects to the football great.
“I’m old now and prone to be infected by coronavirus. And due to the pandemic, my wife doesn’t agree to let me go outside, and it was my son to sneakily take me outside. Maradona is the greatest football player. I don’t want to miss the chance to say goodbye to him. See how the world has reacted [to his death], his influence extends far beyond as a football player,” said a Maradona fan.
“To me, Maradona represents the Argentina’s football. I don’t think he died. He just went to play football in heaven,” said another fan.
Maradona died at his home in the northern outskirts of Buenos Aires on Wednesday at the age of 60, after suffering a heart attack.
Argentina’s government declared three days of national mourning following the sport star’s death.