Disciples of the Church of Maradona, a fan-led ‘religion’ dedicated to the late Argentine footballer, prepared to celebrate their own version of ‘Christmas’ at the Servando Bayo club in Rosario on Saturday.
“It is the largest movement in tribute to Diego in the world, created in 2001, endorsed by Diego,” explained the founder of the church, Alejandro Veron. “We are more than 500,000 people around the world in more than 56 countries, we think that Diego was and will be the greatest of all time.”
‘Christmas’ takes place on October 30, Maradona’s birthday. Footage shows the followers on ‘Christmas Eve’ preparing special decorations dedicated to their hero, as well as dancing, chanting and singing.
The church even has its own ’10 Commandments’, including loving football above all else, defending the Argentine shirt, taking ‘Diego’ as your middle name and naming your first-born son after him too.
While the devotees view Maradona as the greatest footballer in history, he’s also known for his infamous ‘Hand of God’, an unpunished ball-handling goal which put England out of the World Cup in 1986.
It’s an event that religion marks in a very special way.
“The one who is going to be baptised has to score like Diego with his left fist, above the goalkeeper, he has to do it similar to Diego, he has only three attempts and if he fails he has to wait for the next event of the Maradonian church to be baptised,” said visitor, Mariano Sinito.
Maradona died in 2020 at the age of 60. His ‘religion’ has spread to many countries around the world, including Spain, Italy, Germany, and even England.