FIFA president Gianni Infantino has responded after coming under fire for taking a selfie of Pele’s open casket during the legendary player’s wake in Brazil. Pele passed away last week due to organ failure as a result of the progression of colon cancer.
“Just landed from my trip to Brazil where I had the privilege to participate in the beautiful homage to Pele that took place at Vila Belmiro, in Santos,” Infantino wrote on Instagram. “I am dismayed after having been informed that I am apparently being criticised 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 team-mates and family members of the great Pele asked me if I could take a few photos with them. And obviously I immediately agreed. In the case of the selfie, Pele’s team-mates asked to do a selfie of all.”
Pele’s wake was hosted by Santos Football Club in Brazil. The former striker had spent almost the entirety of his playing career at Santos, before embarking on a two-year spell with New York Cosmos ahead of his retirement in 1977.
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Thousands of people had formed queues to enter Santos’ Vila Belmiro Stadium before the wake had got underway. The coffin was brought to the stadium by Edinho, as well as well-known former Santos players.
And Infantino also said that he would be asking every country to name a football stadium in Pele’s honour. “We’re going to ask every country to name one of their football stadiums with the name of Pele” Infantino told journalists. “We’re here with great sadness. Pele is eternal. He’s a global icon of football. Future generations have to know and remember who Pele was.”
Pele was widely regarded as one of the greatest players to ever walk the earth and scored an incredible 77 goals in 92 appearances for Brazil. He helped his country lift the World Cup trophy in 1958, 1962 and 1970 and is still the only player to have won the tournament three times.
Following his death, Brazil declared three days of mourning as outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree that read: “Official mourning is declared throughout the country, for a period of three days, counted from the date of publication of this decree, as a sign of regret for the death of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele, a former football player.”