Football: S'poreans turn up in numbers to pay respects to Maradona at Argentine Embassy

SINGAPORE – They may deal with a differently shaped ball, but that did not stop the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) executive committee members from taking time off work to pay their respects to the late football legend Diego Maradona at the Argentine Embassy on Tuesday (Dec 1).

SRU president Terence Khoo, 49, said: “We have been hosting the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens here and have a lot of outreach to many international teams, including Argentina, who we have a special bond with. Hence, we want to stand in solidarity with our friends in this time of sadness.”

Former SRU vice-president Sunny Seah, 54, noted Maradona’s support for Argentina’s national rugby team after the sporting icon visited their dressing room at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

SRU vice-president David Lim, 49, added: “Maradona transcends sports because of the talent, athleticism, creativity and passion he represents.”

The 1986 World Cup winner died of a heart attack at the age of 60 in Argentina last Wednesday, leading to an outpouring of grief and tributes worldwide.

Since Friday, the Argentine Embassy opened two condolence books for people in Singapore to pay tribute to Maradona at its office in Suntec Tower One.

Almost 100 people – including diplomats from various countries based here – have signed the books or made appointments to do so.

There were also those who went the extra mile and brought bouquets and hand-made albums filled with photos and magazine cut-outs of the “Golden Boy”.

While Federico Barttfeld, Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Singapore, knew his compatriot was a genius and legend back home, he was surprised to learn that many here hold Maradona with such high regard and affection.

The 51-year-old shared how he came across three teenagers on a morning jog the day after Maradona died, and was told they knew of his prowess from their parents who idolised the former Barcelona and Napoli star.

He added: “Neither distance nor cultural differences can interfere with the admiration of a man who was able to create magic with a football. We are pleased and heartened by the recognition of Maradona’s performances.”

The condolence book will remain opened until Thursday from 10am to 1pm and from 3pm to 5pm.

In compliance with safe distance measures due to Covid-19, the signing of the book will be available only through appointment by calling 6887 9811.

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