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FIFA President Gianni Infantino said he was 'appalled' by criticism over his supposed lack of 'respect' after taking a selfie at Pele's funeral on Monday, renewing his suggestion to pay his respects to the “King” by renaming stadiums in his name.
This call from FIFA to rename the enclosures in each of its 211 member federations has also been heard since Cape Verde became the first country on Wednesday to respond to it, renaming the enclosure previously called “Pelé Stadium”. “National Stadium”.
The boss of the International Football Federation has found himself under fire from critics since Monday for a snapshot where we see the leader posing all smiles not far from the body of the “King” Pelé, exposed for a funeral wake on the lawn of the Santos club, where the Brazilian football legend shone from 1956 to 1974.
“I am appalled to learn that I am apparently being criticized by some for taking a selfie and photos at the ceremony,” Infantino wrote on Instagram overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. “I have so much respect and admiration for Pelé and for the ceremony that I would never have dared to do anything that could be disrespectful.”
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Next to Infantino, who is holding the mobile phone to take the photo, pose three people under the big white tent hosting Pelé's coffin. We recognize Manoel Maria, best friend of the legendary Brazilian striker.
A “Pelé Stadium” in Cape Verde
“I was honored and touched that teammates and family members of the great Pelé asked me to take a photo with them,” continued Infantino. “Pelé's team asked me to take a selfie of all of us, but they didn't know how. So to be helpful, I took one of them's phone and took a picture of all of us.”
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During Pelé's funeral wake, more than 230,000 people gathered in front of his remains, an incessant parade of admirers often moved to tears.
The eternal number 10, who marked generations of football lovers, returned to his final resting place on Tuesday, a 200m2 mausoleum in the cemetery vertical of the Brazilian city of Santos.
Tributes have poured in from all over the world since the death on December 29 of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, who died at the age of 82.
To salute the memory of the “King”, Infantino announced on Monday that FIFA would ask all its member countries to name a stadium after Pelé, a call he repeated in his post on Instagram.
“The most important thing is to pay tribute to King Pelé . Having humbly suggested that our 211 member federations rename at least one football stadium or venue in his name, we will set an example by renaming the ground located in our headquarters “Pelé Stadium – Fifa Zurich””, underlined the president of FIFA.
Cape Verde's new “Pelé Stadium”, located in Praia, on the main island of Santiago, has 15,000 seats.
This name change was announced on Wednesday by Cape Verdean Prime Minister José Ulisses Correia e Silva, in the name of “a history and a culture that go hand in hand between Brazil and Cape Verde, two brotherly countries”. , wrote the leader on Facebook.