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a last farewell to the “Pibe de Oro” in the confusion

The day of national tribute to Diego Maradona was at the height of the passions aroused by the icon of Argentine football: passionate and outrageous with a funeral wake ended in confusion before the departure of the funeral procession carrying Diego Maradona to his final resting place.

At dawn, a long line of thousands of supporters began to meander around the historic Place de Mai in the hope of entering Casa Rosada, the seat of the Argentine presidency, where a fiery chapel was held.

An enormous black ribbon adorned the entrance to the pink stone building, whose flags were at half mast as a sign of national mourning, decreed for three days. But not all were able to say a final farewell to their idol and several incidents tarnished this moment of meditation.

The closed coffin containing the remains of the football legend, covered with the Argentinian flag and the various jerseys of the teams for which Maradona has played, in particular those of the Argentine selection and Boca Juniors flocked with the mythical number 10, had to be moved, according to a government source. Supporters had invaded the courtyard of the presidency.

Clashes also broke out in the adjacent streets with the police, who used rubber bullets and tear gas in exchange for projectiles of all kinds.

Private family ceremony

After these moments of confusion, the funeral procession set off towards the Jardin de Paz cemetery, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, where “A religious service” was planned, during a private family ceremony. Interior Minister Gustavo Russo has announced that the funeral procession will attempt to use the artery where the queue has formed to allow admirers of Maradona to bid them farewell.

Before this agitated end of the day, fist raised or hand on heart, many fans were however able to follow one another in front of the remains of their idol, who died Wednesday at the age of 60 from cardiac arrest.

Family members and active or retired players, including teammates of the Argentinian captain at the 1986 World Cup, had gone to the ardent chapel in privacy before it opened to the public at 6 a.m. (10 a.m. in Paris).

Thousands of admirers gathered during the night near the stadiums of the clubs where the “Pibe de Oro” (“golden kid”) had officiated in Argentina: in Buenos Aires (Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors), Rosario (Newell’s Old Boys) as well as at La Plata, where he coached Gimnasia’s training until his death.

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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