Three funeral workers have been fired for posing for photographs alongside the body of soccer star Diego Maradona shortly before his funeral.
The images, distributed across social media, created outrage and even death threats across a nation that venerated Maradona, who died on Wednesday of a heart attack, aged 60.
Tens of thousands had lined up for a chance to file past his body at the nation’s presidential palace on Thursday.
Earlier, though, a funeral parlour employee took a selfie with Maradona next to the open coffin.
Claudio Fernandez confirmed to Radio Diez on Friday that he had lost his job at the Pinier funeral home, along with his son Ismael and Claudio Medina.
One of the images shows Fernandez and his son – smiling and with thumb raised – alongside Maradona’s body in the coffin on Thursday. Medina appears in another in the same pose.
Fernandez insisted that he had not known they had planned to take a photograph, much less distribute it.
“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 since been receiving threats from others living in the El Paternal neighbourhood where Maradona had made his debut as a professional in 1976 with the Argentinos Juniors team.
“They know me. I’m from the neighbourhood,” Fernandez said. “They say they are going to kill us, break our heads.”
Tributes continue to pour in
Some of the world’s top football managers have taken the chance to offer their memories Diego Maradona following his death at 60 and to pay tribute to the player that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer called “the best there has been.”
GENNARO GATTUSO (Napoli)
“The greatest regret I have is probably the fact that I can’t tell my children I played against Maradona. For sure he would have dribbled past me or maybe something worse, but I regret it.
“He died, but Diego will never die, especially in this city (Napoli) because this city was lucky enough to have him. He changed the history of Italian football because, for a long time, the championship was played between Turin and Milan teams.
“Here he was more than a player. He was someone who always said reasonable things and was the pride of the city.”
OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER (Manchester United)
“Diego Maradona will always be the best player I have seen live. Saw him play for Argentina against Norway in Oslo. They lost 1-0. Stood outside and touched his shoulder.
“Had the pleasure of meeting him at Old Trafford. Unbelievable talent. Smile when you saw him. Best there has been.”
FRANK LAMPARD (Chelsea)
“Diego Maradona was my idol growing up. He was a person who was the player on the world stage that made me fall in love with the game. He is a footballing god.”
CARLO ANCELOTTI (Everton)
“I have a good memory of him. He was an opponent and then he became a friend. I always liked him as a person and it’s a big loss for football. He was the best player I ever played against.”
“You cannot explain Maradona with the handball. That World Cup, he practically won on his own.”
JURGEN KLOPP (Liverpool)
“The best through my lifetime. Maybe it is not right anymore because I have seen Cristiano (Ronaldo) and Lionel (Messi) many times now as well. In my own playing career, he was the stand-out player.
“His life shows how nice and how difficult life can be when you are a world-class footballer.
“I met him once. For a player of my level meeting him was like meeting the Pope!”
MARCELO BIELSA (Leeds United)
“He was for us, and will continue to be, an idol. Given the fact he is not here with us anymore brings us great sadness. Having lost an idol, it’s something that makes us feel weak.
“Maradona was an artist. To give one example that stands out: the songs written about him are extraordinary and I read 10 texts after his death that have been emotional.
“I don’t recall where I was (when I watched his second goal against England in 1986) but the expression of ‘a work of art’ is something that you can’t put to too many things.
“When you see a beautiful church you are taken aback. This was a similar feeling I had when Diego scored.”
GRAHAM POTTER (Brighton & Hove Albion)
“He was and is an iconic figure in football. I remember watching him in the 1986 World Cup and it was an amazing experience as an 11-year-old.
“It was like seeing football in a completely different way. He was amazing. What a life he led, what a legend he is.”
STEVE BRUCE (Newcastle United)
“Whenever he was on the TV and any game he was involved in, I would tune in to watch him. It’s a sadness that we’ve lost a great, great footballer. Maradona was simply the best.”
DIEGO SIMEONE (Atletico Madrid)
“A mythical figure leaves us, an Argentine who transmitted all of his rebellious streak to fight for positive and negative things, while always looking forwards.
“He transmitted so much to so many boys, and our footballing identity comes from watching him.
“At Sevilla he took me under his wing fantastically, and showed me what it meant to play for Argentina. I feel that he’ll always be with us.”