Buenos Aires – A bereaved Diego Maradona accompanied on Monday the funeral procession of his mother, Dalma Salvadora Franco, to the Jardin private cemetery in Bella Vista, a city on the outskirts of Argentina's capital.
A group of people gathered at the entrance to the cemetery with posters expressing support for Maradona, who arrived in Buenos Aires Sunday from the Middle East to attend the vigil for his mother. She had died a day earlier at the age of 81.
The soccer legend's mother, known as "Doña Tota," was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Los Arcos health clinic, in the capital's Palermo neighborhood, due to health problems that had led to several stays in the hospital in recent months.
The hearse with a plaque reading "Doña Tota" was accompanied by Maradona, his daughters Dalma and Giannina, his seven brothers and his father, "Don Diego," among other family members and friends.
"I hope journalists will be respectful of my dad in such a sorrowful moment," Dalma said in a posting Monday on Twitter.
Diego Maradona arrived in Argentina from Dubai where he coaches the Al Wasl club. He made no statement to the press after hearing of his mother's death in mid-flight.
President Cristina Fernandez called Maradona to express her condolences and said that she "shares his grief," officials said.
Doña Tota, the mother of eight children, had been admitted to the hospital with "a diagnosis of sepsis, reintensified chronic renal insufficiency, hemodynamic instability and deterioration in (her) general health," the Los Arcos clinic said in a statement.
Expressions of deepest sympathy on this sad occasion accumulated over the weekend on social networks and in communiques, as was the case of soccer star Lionel Messi, who sent his condolences for the death of the soccer legend's mother through his foundation.
Players and fans observed a minute of silence before the beginning of the matches scheduled for the Apertura Tournament in the top category of Argentine soccer.
In the game this Sunday between Boca and Racing, the stands were full of waving flags bearing words of support for the star.
Players on the Boca team left the playing field wearing black armbands as a sign of mourning, while Juan Roman Riquelme asked that the club not stage the tribute planned for Monday celebrating the club's 15 years in the First Division.
Maradona was always very close to his mother, even having a rose tatooed on his back with the words "Tota, te amo" (Tota, I love you).