A funeral worker who took a photo next to the open coffin of Argentine football icon Diego Maradona has asked fans for forgiveness.
Claudio Fernández was pictured standing next to Maradona’s body, alongside his son, who made a thumbs-up gesture. A third man appeared in his own photo.
Maradona died at his home in Tigre, near Buenos Aires, on Wednesday.
The images surfaced online as Maradona’s body lay in repose at the presidential palace, provoking outrage.
The footballer’s lawyer, Matías Morla, has vowed to take action against “the scoundrel” responsible for the photos.
Mr Fernandez told Radio 10 on Friday that the decision to take the photo was “something instantaneous”.
“My son, like every kid, raised his thumb and they took the photo,” he said. “I know that many people have been offended, they have taken it badly.”
Mr Fernández said he had received death threats.
“They say they are going to kill us, break our heads,” he told the radio station.
The Sepelios Pinier funeral parlour said the three men were “outsourced employees” who had helped carry the coffin.
Manager of the parlour, Matías Picón, told the TN news channel that the company was “devastated” by the images.
He said his company had organised funeral services for other members of the Maradona family. “The family has total confidence in us, that’s why we are so affected,” he said.
“My father is 75 years old and he is crying, I am crying, my brother too, we are destroyed,” Mr Picón added.
A preliminary post-mortem, widely reported by Argentinean media, indicated that Maradona had suffered “acute heart failure”.
He had successful surgery on a brain blood clot earlier in November and was to be treated for alcohol dependency. He had a tumultuous personal life, scarred by alcohol and cocaine addiction, which caused him health problems.
Many of the footballing world’s biggest stars have paid tribute to Maradona, including former England striker Gary Lineker, who said the Argentine was “by some distance, the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time”.