Boca fans get private cemetery

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Die-hard fans of Boca Juniors can take their loyalty to the grave.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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Buenos Aires, Argentina:

Die-hard fans of Boca Juniors can take their loyalty to the grave. Boosters of the Argentine powerhouse unveiled a private cemetery plot on Thursday where former players, managers and the most rabid fans can be laid to rest. In Argentina, where some Boca Juniors fans clothe newborns in the blue and yellow colors and team loyalty usually lasts a lifetime, a new Boca Juniors section in the private Parque Pereyra Iraola cemetery, south of this capital, offers a way to take allegiance another step. Boca's fans are renowned for their devotion to the team, one of the winningest in South America. The club has followers as far away as Europe and Asia. A Boca wine is available, and recently a Boca-themed taxi service began ferrying passengers around Buenos Aires. Diego Maradona is Boca's greatest player. On Thursday, a priest who is a Boca fan led a blessing of the new cemetery space as officials cut a blue and yellow Boca ribbon. Flowers in blue and yellow colors fluttered in the breeze on the neatly clipped cemetery lawn as a black stone water fountain bearing the shield of the Boca Juniors Athletic Club was turned on. Workers in dark jackets solemnly reburied the ashes of two former players, Julio Musimessi and Juan Estrada - the first to fill a projected 3,000 plots laid out in the cemetery, about 30 kilometers south of Buenos Aires. Authorities didn't say how much it would cost fans who wished to be buried at the site but they said former players and managers would have first dibs. Antonio Ubaldo Rattin, a famous Boca goalkeeper from the 1960s, attended the inauguration and remarked how the cemetery was tastefully done. "It's so beautiful, you almost wish you could stay," he declared. He insisted Boca is first in everything "and now in a cemetery". Quiet and secluded, the plot is far from the thundering stands of La Bombonera, the Boca stadium in Buenos Aires that has killed the hopes of many a rival team. Orlando Salvestrini, one of the Boca club officials on hand, said so many fans had barraged the club with requests to scatter deceased relatives' ashes at La Bombonera that they didn't know what to do - regulations don't allow that. "Here they will find a dignified place" for their loved ones, Salvestrini said. (AP)

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