A funeral director who took a selfie next to the open coffin of Argentinian football icon Diego Maradona when his body was in Buenos Aires was fired and asked for forgiveness.
The images, which were widely circulated online, sparked international outrage – including death threats.
Claudio Fernandez told Radio Diez on Friday that he and his son Ismael and a third man had lost their job at the Sepelios Pinier funeral home.
One picture shows a man showing a thumb up to the camera with one hand while the other appears to be touching the forehead of the deceased World Cup winner died of a heart attack at his home on Wednesday, 60 years old.
A third funeral director appears in a different photo in the same pose.
Mr Fernandez said they did not plan to take the picture. “It was something immediate. I had just raised my head and my son did it like any 18-year-old kid,” he told the radio station.
He said he had received threats from others who lived in the El Paternal neighborhood where Maradona made his professional debut in 1976 with the Argentinos Juniors Team.
“You know me. I’m from the neighborhood,” he said. “They say they’ll kill us, break our heads.”
He said he knew the soccer player’s family and it was not his intention to show disrespect and asked everyone for forgiveness.
The club issued a statement considering removing Mr. Fernandez from his membership.
According to the Argentine television broadcaster TN, the three were hired by the funeral home to prepare Maradona’s body and carry the coffin.
It was said that manager Matias Picon was “devastated” and claimed that the trio were not directly employed by them and that they had been “outsourced” by third parties.
Mr. Picon told TN: “The family trusted us, we have worked 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.”
Maradona’s attorney Matias Morla vented his anger on Twitter, writing on Friday: “I will personally take care of finding the villain who took the picture.
“I will not rest for the memory of my friend until I pay for such aberration. All who are responsible for such cowardice will pay for it.”
Thousands of fans lined the city streets to pay their respects to the football legend and sparked clashes after many failed to see the coffin.
Only family members and close friends attended the funeral, and Maradona was buried next to the graves of his parents Dalma and Diego.