Home / Sports / Football News /  FIFA to ask all countries to name a stadium for Pele: Gianni Infantino

FIFA will ask all the world's countries to name a stadium for Brazilian football legend Pele, the head of the sport's governing body, Gianni Infantino, said Monday at the late icon's wake.

Infantino was in the city of Santos, Brazil, to pay his final respects to the player widely considered the greatest of all time, who died Thursday at the age of 82.

"We're going to ask every country in the world to name one of their football stadiums with the name of Pele," Infantino told journalists at the Vila Belmiro, the stadium where the player known as "The King" first exploded onto the world stage with his exploits for his longtime club, Santos FC.

Attending the 24-hour wake along with the heads of the South American and Brazilian football confederations, Infantino was among the first to pay homage before Pele's open casket, which was displayed in the middle of the field at Vila Belmiro stadium.

"We're here with great sadness," Infantino said. "Pele is eternal. He's a global icon of football."

The 24-hour wake will be followed by a funeral procession Tuesday through the streets of Santos, including past the house of Pele's mother, 100-year-old Celeste Arantes, who is still alive.

The procession will end at Santos's Memorial Cemetery, where Pele will be interred in a special mausoleum.

FIFA had already flown the flags of the world at half-mast Friday outside its headquarters in Zurich in honor of Pele, whom the organization has named as the greatest player of the 20th century.

Pele, the only player in history to win three World Cups, died at a Sao Paulo hospital after a long battle with cancer.

Monday's wake will be followed by a funeral procession through the streets of Santos Tuesday, then a private interment ceremony.

Brazil begins paying last respect to Pele

An emotional Brazil began paying its final respects Monday to football legend Pele with a wake at the stadium where he first took the world's breath away with his dazzling skill.

Thousands of fans and football dignitaries including FIFA president Gianni Infantino slowly filed through the Vila Belmiro, home to Pele's longtime club, Santos, where the coffin bearing the remains of "O Rei" (The King) was displayed in the center of the field.

Tributes have poured in from around the world since his death, with a Who's Who of current and former football greats hailing his genius for the "beautiful game."

A stream of athletes, politicians, dignitaries and fans are expected in Santos for his wake, though turnout may be dented somewhat by the New Year's holiday weekend.

Pele's coffin was carried into the stadium by pallbearers dressed in black, led by his son Edinho. The late icon's widow, Marcia Cibele Aoki, the third wife he married in 2016, cried before his open casket as she reached out to touch his head.

The coffin was surrounded by white flowers, including bouquets signed by names ranging from Real Madrid to current Brazil star Neymar, whose father was in attendance.

Three giant flags were displayed in the black-and-white stadium, one with an image of Pele sporting his famous number 10 jersey.

Another bore the message "Long live the King"; the third said simply, "Pele 82 years."


This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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