A funeral worker who took a selfie next to the open casket of Argentine football icon Diego Maradona as his body lay in state in Buenos Aires has been fired and begged for forgiveness.
The images, which were shared widely online, sparked international outrage – including death threats.
Claudio Fernandez told Radio Diez on Friday that he had lost his job at the Sepelios Pinier funeral home, along with his son Ismael and a third man.
In one image, a man can be seen giving a thumbs-up to the camera with one hand, while the other appears to be touching the forehead of the late World Cup winner, who died of a heart attack at his home on Wednesday, aged 60.
A third funeral worker appears in another photo in the same pose.
Mr Fernandez said they hadn’t planned to take the photo. “It was something instantaneous. I’d just raised my head and my son did it like any kid of 18,” he told the radio station.
He said he had received threats from others living in the El Paternal neighbourhood where Maradona debuted as a professional in 1976 with the Argentinos Juniors team.
“They know me. I’m from the neighbourhood,” he said. “They say they are going to kill us, break our heads.”
He said he knew the footballer’s family, and that it was not his intention to show any disrespect, and asked for everyone’s forgiveness.
The club issued a statement saying it was considering expelling Mr Fernandez from its membership.
The three were hired by the funeral parlour to help prepare Maradona’s body and carry the coffin, according to Argentinian TV channel TN.
It said the manager Matias Picon was “devastated” and claimed the trio were not directly employed by them, and that they were “outsourced” by a third party.
Mr Picon told TN: “The family trusted us, we have been working with them for a long time. My father is 75-years-old and he is crying, I am crying, my brother too, we are destroyed.”
Venting his anger on Twitter, Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla wrote on Friday: “I am going to personally take care of finding the scoundrel who took that photograph.
“For the memory of my friend I will not rest until I pay for such an aberration. All those responsible for such an act of cowardice will pay.”
Thousands of fans lined the streets of the city to pay their respects to the football legend, sparking clashes after many were unable to get a glimpse of the coffin.
Only family members and close friends attended the burial, and Maradona was laid to rest next to the graves of his parents, Dalma and Diego.