Football

Argentina mourns its ‘dios’

Adios! An improvised altar was set up by fans of Argentinos Juniors, the club where Diego Maradona’s legendary journey began.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Stunned Argentines were plunged into grief on Wednesday by the death of the country’s favourite son Diego Maradona, a sublimely gifted sporting hero they saw as “the most human of Gods.”

Hammer blow

The news fell like a hammer blow to a nation beaten down by months of economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, but one where soccer is seen as a panacea for all ills.

At 10 p.m. Buenos Aires exploded in cheers, horns, sirens and lights for the man who famously wore the number 10, after a viral social media message called for “one last applause”.

At the Diego Maradona stadium, home to the Argentinos Juniors club — where Maradona played as a child and made his debut as a professional player — fireworks were launched as a large crowd flooded into the field to the cry of “Maradooo, Maradooo”.

Earlier, fans searching for a place to grieve gravitated towards the Obelisk landmark in downtown Buenos Aires — and, of course, the Bombonera, the steep-sided cauldron of a stadium that is home to Boca Juniors, where Maradona’s genius was forged.

“Today’s a bad day. A very sad day for all Argentines,” President Alberto Fernandez summed up in an interview with sports channel TyC, after declaring three days of national mourning.

All around the city, the mourning had already begun as fans stood forlornly beside banners in homage to the Number 10, showing Maradona — who died aged 60 of a heart attack — in his dashing prime.

Many of the banners simply said D10S, a play on the Spanish word dios for god that includes Maradona’s jersey number.

Maradonian Church

If soccer is a religion in Argentina, then Maradona really was its God — especially for the founders of the Maradonian Church, a mostly internet-based group that uses religious language to venerate the player.

Around 1,000 people answered the ‘Church’ call for fans to gather in his honour at the Obelisk at 6 p.m., a traditional rallying point in central Buenos Aires for soccer celebrations.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 10:22:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/argentina-mourns-its-dios/article33187166.ece

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