Mourners gather as Pele laid to rest in Santos

The football world will continue to pay their respects to Pele at a funeral ceremony for the legendary forward in Sao Paulo today.

Pele, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970, died at the age of 82 in December. Tributes have flooded in from the footballing community and beyond for a man widely considered to be one of the best – if not the best – to ever play the game.

Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, whose term came to an end at the turn of the year, declared three days of national mourning after Pele’s passing. A number of footballers past and present have shared tributes on social media, while a funeral reception and parade through Sao Paulo will allow many to pay their respects in person.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino posted a picture after visiting Brazil to bid farewell to the legendary PELE. In writing ” Just landed from my trip to Brazil where I had the privilege to participate in the beautiful homage to Pelé that took place at Vila Belmiro, in Santos. I am dismayed after having been informed that I am apparently being criticized by some people for having taken a selfie and pictures at the ceremony yesterday.

I would like to clarify that I was both honoured and humbled that teammates and family members of the great Pelé asked me if I could take a few photos with them. And obviously, I immediately agreed.

In the case of the selfie, Pelé’s teammates asked to do a selfie of all of us together but they didn’t know how to do it. So, to be helpful, I took the phone of one of them and took a photo of all of us for him.

If being helpful to a teammate of Pelé creates criticism I’m happy to take it and will continue to be helpful wherever I can to those having contributed to writing legendary pages of football.

I have so much respect and admiration for Pelé and for that ceremony yesterday that I would never do anything that would be disrespectful in any way whatsoever.

I hope that those who published or said things without knowing and without seeking information could have the decency and courage to admit they were wrong and correct what they said.

The most important in any case is to pay tribute to King Pelé, and whilst I humbly suggested that throughout our 211 member associations, at least one football stadium or venue is named after him, we will set the example by giving the pitch in our headquarters the name “Estádio Pelé – FIFA Zürich”. Um abraço e viva o Rei!”

Pele’s funeral procession passed the house where his 100-year-old mother, Celeste Arantes, still lives.

Dona Celeste, as she is known in Brazil, celebrated her 100th birthday on 20 November – the day the 2022 World Cup kicked off in Qatar.

She was 17 when she gave birth to Pele, her first child, on 23 October 1940.

Family members say she has cognitive difficulties and is unaware her son has died.

“She’s doing well, but she’s in her own little world,” her daughter, Maria Lucia, who lives with her in the southeastern city of Santos”.

A stay-at-home mother, she dedicated her life to caring for her children.

“From a young age, she taught me the value of love and peace,” Pele wrote on Instagram on her 100th birthday.

“I have well over 100 reasons to be thankful for being her son. I share these photos with you, with great emotion to celebrate this day. Thank you for every day by your side, Mom.”


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