Opening of a church celebrating the “religion” of football legend Maradona in Mexico

PUEBLA, Mexico – A pair of tall vases carrying soccer balls stand at the entrance to Mexico’s First Maradonian Church and an image of Diego Maradona wearing a charro hat greets worshipers.

Inside the church, the Catholic Stations of the Cross are recreated with photos of Maradona from her childhood to iconic encounters with the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Pope Francis.

The church in Puebla, in central Mexico, which opened on July 7, celebrates the “religion” created in Argentina in 1998 by admirers of the late footballer Maradona.

A photo of Diego Maradona and a replica of the World Cup trophy are pictured on an altar at Mexico’s First Church in memory of football legend Diego Armando Maradona in San Andres Cholula, Puebla State, Au Mexico, July 14, 2021. Edgard Garrido / Reuters

The Maradonian religion has spread to several countries around the world and has more than half a million followers.

“My mom and dad, who are Catholics, say it’s crazy,” said Andrea Hernández, a 22-year-old footballer, during a visit to the Maradonian church adorned with posters of Maradona, who played for clubs in Spain and Italy.

“But for us, those of us who love football, it’s great that Maradona can have such recognition in Mexico.”

Maradona, who died in November 2020 shortly after celebrating his 60th birthday, rose to footballing glory after winning the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, which crowned him one of the best players of all time.

A fan takes photos at the entrance to Mexico’s First Church in memory of football legend Diego Armando Maradona in San Andres Cholula, Puebla state, Mexico on July 14, 2021.Edgard Garrido / Reuters

Marcelo Buchet, who opened the church, said it was a place “where you can talk about football”.

“It’s not like going to another church, sitting down and listening,” Buchet said.

“Here you are part of everything. People have accepted this and they are very happy. I saw people cry, people throw themselves at her picture, pray. I feel a lot better that I’m not the only fool. “

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