3 funeral workers fired over Maradona coffin photos
16-month-old Andrea Cangiano plays with a ball in front of an image of Diego Maradona at Naples' Royal Palace in the central Piazza Plebiscito, on Nov. 27, 2020. (Alessandra Tarantino / AP)
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA -- Three funeral workers have been fired for posing for photos alongside the body of soccer star Diego Maradona shortly before his funeral.
The images distributed across social media created outrage, even death threats, across a nation that venerated Maradona, who died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 60. Tens of thousands lined up for a chance to file past his body at the nation's presidential palace on Thursday.
Claudio Fernandez confirmed to Radio Diez on Friday that he'd 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 hadn't known they'd 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 been receiving 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," Fernandez said. "They say they are going to kill us, break our heads."
The team issued a statement saying it was considering expelling Fernandez from its membership rolls.