Just nine days after the death of Argentine football icon Diego Maradona, the Naples municipality has officially approved an application to rename Napoli’s home stadium in honor of their most famous player of all time.
Maradona led Napoli to two Serie A titles in his seven seasons with the Italian club and remains an almost blissful figure in a city sunk in grief when his death at the age of 60 was announced on November 25th.
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In the hours after his death, Napoli’s owner Aurelio de Laurentis later wrote an Open proposing that the team’s Stadio San Paolo be renamed in honor of Maradona – and the plans have now been signed by the city council.
“With a resolution approved today, the stadium was named after Diego Armando Maradona,” announced the Naples municipality in a statement on Friday.
“The resolution was proposed by Mayor Luigi de Magistris, City Councilor for Toponymy Alessandre Clemente, and signed by the entire City Council, which met the Palazzo San Giacomo.
“Shortly before the Executive Committee meeting, the City Toponymy Advisory Commission approved the proposal of the Mayor, City Council for Toponymy and City Council and named San Paolo Stadium after Diego Armanda Maradona with the name Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.”
Napoli’s first game at their newly named stadium will take place on Thursday. It promises an emotional game in the Europa League with the surprising La Liga leaders Real Sociedad.
Fans are not allowed to return to the Naples stadiums just yet, but thousands of fans lined the streets and lit torches before taking on Rijeka in the Europa League last week. A similar reaction is expected from the Napoli faithful on the opening night of the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
However, the decision to rename the stadium in Maradona’s honor and at the expense of previous inspiration, St. Paul, did not go down well in some areas after some members of the clergy expressed their outrage in an open letter.
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“The Stadio San Paolo should be named after the saint who brought us Jesus,” they said, referring to a completely different ‘hand of God’.
“It is with humility that we feel obliged to tell you. We all agree on one thing: we don’t want a clean board. It would be okay to name the San Paolo-Maradona stadium, as in Milan, where the San Siro- there, Meazza.
“I would be the right compromise to save the faith and honor the champion.”