Just nine days after the passing of Argentine football icon Diego Maradona, the Naples municipality has officially approved a request to rename Napoli’s home stadium to honor their most famous ever player.
Maradona led Napoli to two Serie A titles in his seven seasons with the Italian club and remains an almost beatified figure in a city which was plunged into mourning when his death at the age of 60 was announced on November 25.
In the hours after his passing, Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentis penned an open later in which he suggested renaming the team’s Stadio San Paolo in honor of Maradona – and the plans have now been signed off on by the city’s municipality.
“With a resolution approved today, the stadium was named after Diego Armando Maradona,” the Naples municipality announced in a Friday statement.
“The resolution was proposed by Mayor Luigi de Magistris, by the Councillor for Toponymy Alessandre Clemente and signed by the entire city council, which met is Palazzo San Giacomo.
“Shortly before the executive committee meeting, the advisory commission for city toponymy had approved the proposal of the Mayor, the Councillor for Toponymy and the city council, naming the San Paolo stadium after Diego Armanda Maradona with the name Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.”
📝 It’s official🏟 Stadio Diego Armando Maradona pic.twitter.com/XqTYFTRWsx
The Municipality of Naples has announced that Napoli’s stadium, the Stadio San Paolo, has been changed to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. pic.twitter.com/3FLf519cRN
Napoli’s first game in their newly-named stadium will come on Thursday in what promises to be an emotional Europa League fixture with surprise La Liga leaders Real Sociedad.
Fans aren’t yet permitted to return to stadiums in Naples but thousands of supporters lined the streets and lit flares ahead of last week’s Europa League fixture with Rijeka and 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 the previous inspiration, St. Paul, hasn’t gone down well in some quarters after some members of the clergy expressed their outrage in an open letter.
“The Stadio San Paolo should be name after the saint who brought us Jesus,” they stated, referring to an entirely different ‘Hand of God’.
“With humility we feel the responsibility to tell you. We all agree on one thing: we don’t want a clean slate. It would be fine to name the Stadium San Paolo-Maradona, like in Milan where there is the San Siro-Meazza.
“I would be the right compromise the save the faith and honour the champion.”