FIFA President Gianni Infantino paid his final respects to Pelé when he attended a memorial for the legendary Brazilian at the Vila Belmiro stadium, home of Santos FC.
The FIFA President was accompanied by Ednaldo Rodrigues, President of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), and Alejandro Domínguez, President of CONMEBOL and a FIFA Vice-President. They were greeted by Andrés Rueda, the President of Santos FC, the only Brazilian club Pelé played for and where he spent 18 years of his career.
Pelé, the only player to win the FIFA World Cup three times, passed away on December 29, 2022 at the age of 82 to leave the football world in mourning. Thousands of fans began queuing overnight outside the stadium for the wake, which was due to last for 24 hours, starting on Monday morning.
Pelé’s coffin was placed in the middle of the pitch so that people could pay their respects. On Tuesday, a procession carrying his coffin will pass through the streets of Santos, ending at the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery, where he will be buried in a private ceremony.
“The whole world knows Pelé and knows what Pelé did for football. He made people fall in love with football,” said the FIFA President. “He is eternal, the King is eternal, and we are here, with much emotion, with great sadness…but with also a smile, because he made all of us smile.”
Gianni Infantino said that FIFA had asked each of the 211 Member Associations around the world to hold a minute’s silence at every game in Pelé’s memory. He said he would also suggest that FIFA ask every MA to name at least one stadium in their country after Pelé.
“I think the young people around the world, the future generations, have to know and remember who Pelé was, and the happiness he gave the world,” he said. “In 20, 30, 50, or 100 years’ time, when goals are scored in the Pelé stadium in any country in the world, and people ask who he was, (they will hear) he was a great, great player who brought excitement to us all.”
FIFA Deputy Secretary-General – Football, Mattias Grafström, and FIFA Legend Houssine Kharja were also part of the FIFA delegation.