Heavenly Treatment for Messi, Maradona
'Sacred temple' in Buenos Aires has unique fresco, Agence France-presse reports
There is no question that soccer is a sort of religion in Argentina.
And one of the soccer-mad country's brightest stars, Diego Maradona, is known for his infamous "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.
Now, on the ceiling of one club in Buenos Aires, in a painting modeled after Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel, Maradona is 'God', extending his hand to 'Adam' - Lionel Messi.
Argentina-born Pope Francis, an avowed soccer fan, would certainly smile at the grand gesture made by the club Sportivo Pereyra, located in the Barracas district of the capital, where soccer and other team sports are played.
"For us, this pitch is our temple - a sacred temple of football, and what better than to have a fresco on the ceiling that is worthy of a temple?" said coach Ricardo Elsegood.
"The Sistine Chapel has God and Adam, and the chapel of soccer has Messi and Maradona."
In this version of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam," instead of the angels surrounding God, other Argentine soccer greats are featured: Juan Roman Riquelme, Gabriel Batistuta, Mario Kempes, Sergio Aguero, Claudio Caniggia, Ricardo Bochini and Ariel Ortega.
The players are clad in the blue-and-white striped jersey of Argentina's national team.
The club, where many children play, is located in the southern part of Buenos Aires, not far from the stadium of Boca Juniors, Argentina's most successful club and where Maradona enjoyed two stints as a player.
"It's as if Maradona had bestowed upon Messi the gift of continued good football," explains the artist behind the work, Santiago Barbeito.
For Elsegood, it was a simple decision.
"We realized the ceiling was rather dark," he said.
"We thought at first of painting it blue with white clouds. But one day, the artist came to us and said it would be better to do it with Messi and Maradona. I think it turned out great."