Football legend Diego Maradona is dead. He died of a heart attack at the age of 60. For many, Maradona was, yes, the «football god» – for his home country his importance went far beyond sport. Our correspondent reports that one cannot even believe death on the streets of Argentina.
South America correspondent SRF
Karen Naundorf is SRF correspondent in Buenos Aires. She studied communication in Berlin and graduated from the Henri Nannen School of Journalism.
Who was Diego Maradona for Argentina, what did he mean for the Argentinians?
One can say without exaggeration: As a footballer a national hero. He has shaped entire generations – and especially given hope to children from poor areas. Because, he came from one of these and he has never forgotten that – I remember a conversation with his daughter Dalma, who said to me: If she wanted a new toy as a child, she always had to throw one out and send it to a poor family pass it on, then there was a new one.
But, Maradona was also a political voice, sometimes controversial, always without shades of gray. Only recently did he get involved in the discussion about a tax on the wealthy in the corona crisis. And unlike many other Argentine millionaires, Maradona was for it.
Diego Maradona was an icon in Argentina. What were the first reactions to the news of his death?
You can imagine it: it’s about nothing else in the media, on the street. There is also a certain unbelief in the air that Maradona is dead. Because one has the feeling that he has risen again so often after he was pronounced dead, after he was believed dead. He has survived heart attacks, drug addiction and only recently had a delicate operation. President Alberto Fernández said goodbye via Twitter and thanked Diego, in the we-form, speaking on behalf of the Argentines: Maradona will be missed for the rest of life. A very emotional farewell greeting came from Brazil, from football legend Pele: He hopes to play football again with Maradona someday, in heaven.
How will Maradona’s compatriots bid him farewell?
In the middle of the pandemic, this is of course a difficult undertaking. There are now three days of national mourning, there should also be a wake in the government palace. In these moments the fans gather in different places. But the biggest gathering is supposed to take place here today, where I am standing, at the obelisk, we will mourn together today.