The Maldives has become the latest country to name a football stadium after Pelé in response to the suggestion made by FIFA President Gianni Infantino following the Brazilian legend´s passing in December 2022.
The Pelé Stadium was inaugurated under its new name with a friendly match between the Maldives national team and a local team representing the island of Mahibadhoo, where the stadium is located, on Saturday May 27, 2023. The stadium, which has a FIFA-approved pitch and enjoys a picturesque setting on the shores of the Indian Ocean, was previously known as Mahibadhoo Football Ground.
“It gives immense pleasure to announce that, as part of the initiative by the President of FIFA Gianni Infantino to name a stadium in each country after the great Brazilian legend Pelé, we have today named Mahibadhoo Football Ground as Pelé Stadium,” said Bassam Adeel Jaleel, the President of the Football Association of Maldives (FAM). “This is truly a landmark occasion for us Maldivians, to be associated with the greatest of world football. The naming of the stadium will indeed reflect his services to football, and this will now be engraved in the island of Mahibadhoo football and Maldivian football history forever.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “I would like to sincerely thank the Football Association of Maldives, Mr Jaleel and the people of Mahibadhoo island for this tremendous gesture in naming their stadium after Pelé,” said the FIFA President. “Pelé is eternal. He will always be with us, and it is so important that every boy and girl, now and in future generations, can remember who he was. Once again, thank you to the Maldives for honouring him.”
Gianni Infantino has suggested that each of FIFA’s 211 Member Associations name at least one stadium or football venue after Pelé. He said this would ensure that future generations would know about Pelé and what he did for football. The Maldives have joined Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Colombia and Panama in taking up President Infantino’s call to recognise the football’s first truly global icon.